FabLab Japan

Animism for FabLab designs

animismed layerchair

During the goodbye party that FabLab Kamkakura arranged for me at FabCafe, I pitched a future collaboration project inspired by the Japanese tradition of animism. Most Japanese believe that all things have a spirit, and as a result objects often are portrayed as living animals. Usually with the help of cute eyes, eyebrows and a mouth. My proposal is to develop a a set of animatronic eyes that can be clicked onto any kind of object made in a FabLab. A universal click mount system should make it easy to make a design compatible with the animism eyes. If a curious visitor to the FabLab wants to learn to learn more about a design, he needs only to attach the animism eyes to the dedicated connectors.

“Coding pins” of various lengths will to enable the designer to choose what kind of personality the the moving eyes and eyebrows will convey. Perhaps one pin for Continue Reading →

Wood joint with locking wedge test

new ideas

With some new ideas from the Japanese woodworking traditions, I tested out a locking wood joint principle. As the wedge gets hammered into the slot, it breaks the thin walls loose. The result is a sort of click joint that locks very well with the help of a lasercut 6mm wedge. After the initial hammering, you can insert and remove the wedge with your hands, yet the joint is Continue Reading →

Visit to Japanese wood joinery master

Almost reassembled

I was very lucky to join the FabLab Kamakura team to a visit of traditional Japanese wood joint master Wadako Gei. He has developed an educational joint chair that consists of more than 30 unique wood joints. These joints come from hundreds of years of architecture tradition in Japan,

Some joints with pins are designed so that in an earthquake, only the locking pins would break and can easily be replaced. Some beams where divided into Continue Reading →

Handshake Gorilla workshop at FabLab Kamakura

Unexpectedly the gorillas would respond to eachother when their hand sensors touched. Fighting gorillas!

In Kamakura I gave a workshop with the Handshake Gorilla Arduino kit I designed for FabLab Manchester. Great fun to make robot gorillas in japan. The kit is meant to be a playful introduction to interaction design with the Arduino. When you grab the gorillas hand, you trigger a switch that makes a servo motor move the arm up and down. The result is a very polite handshaking gorilla. By using the Kinect skeleton tracker in Firefly, we also played with controlling the RoboGorillas with our own arm movements.

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The Rocket Scientists of the University of Tokyo

decifering the ardupilot

In tokyo I met aspiring FabLab nomad and PhD student Shohei Aoki. Together with his colleagues Shoehei did his best to help make the ArduPilot board work with the Hexacopter, but no success. Starting to wonder if the board is broken. One of Shohei’s colleagues is developing his own microcontroller for a Quadcopter. He even 3D printed his own frame which is pretty cool. I gave some tips on how to CNC mill propellers and Continue Reading →

Fujimock – Redefining material sourcing and processing

Making planks

FabLab Kamuakura have very interesting project about forests, material processing and design running. Fujimock is about defining new methods and workflows for harvesting local Japanese timber and how to design meaningful products with this raw material. In Japan more and more imported timber is being used over local timber. This is due to many factors, most importantly high domestic labour costs and cheap international transportation.

I was lucky to able to join one of the events, organized in collaboration with a sustainability and forest management organization behind mount Fuji. The participants spent a whole day in the forest learning about the ecosystem, forest management and how chop a tree Japanese style. For many of the participants it was their first time in a forest, let alone touching a saw, so you can safely say it was an entertaining experience. Continue Reading →

Lasering Pixelglasses at FabCafe

No matching videos

I couldn’t allow myself to visit FabCafe to only talk and not make anything. So I returned and had one of the best espressos of Tokyo while I worked out a parametric Pixelglasses definition in Grasshopper.

You define the outline of your glasses with a vector line that you load into grasshopper. The size of the pixels depends on your material thickness. You can set the length and width of the glasses as well as the opacity of the hollow pixels. They work by the same principle as the shutter shades made famous by Kanye West.

The download link features some of the designs I made in collaboration with friends and visitors of FabCafe as well as the parametric system. The Grasshopper definition is slightly buggy and still work in progress. Contact me if you get stuck.

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FabCafe in Tokyo

The lasercutter in the middle, like a 21st century fireplace

FabCafe is an interesting combination of café and digital manufacturing services. In the middle of a very nice cafe interior, you have a large lasercutter. So while you have a coffee, you can have your design lasercut on the spot. Pretty cool.

30minutes of lasertime costs 2.000 Japanese Yen. You can have your own design made or buy a design by someone else. You can also have your laptop, tablet, notebook and so on engraved. They even stock some standard lasercutting materials like plywood, acrylic and felt.

Unlike most FabLabs, you don’t get to use the lasercutter yourself. The focus is more on providing a lasercutting service, than teaching users to understand and master the technology. FabCafe is a great introduction and eyeopener to digital fabrication for many people. People often walk in as regular café guests, but leave as lasercutting enthusiasts after a surprise encounter with local digital fabrication. Continue Reading →

FabLife in Japan

Transporting materials lumberjack style on the Tokyo underground

Here are some snapshots from fab nomad life in Japan. Project posts coming soon Continue Reading →