madMeshMaker :: a generative surface modeler with output to cnc router

by Madeline Gannon @ 7:10 am 23 March 2011

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Click here to download for windows:
Click here to download for mac: madMeshMaker_v1.0.0.macosx
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The madMeshMaker is a generative surface modeling environment, intended to be an intuitive and fun introduction to fabrication with computer-numerically-controlled (CNC) table routers. CNC routers have become a staple of institutions related to digital design and manufacturing for their ability to rapidly fabricate models, furniture, interior systems, and other prototypical assemblages. However, because of the inherent 3D-modeling knowledge needed to both virtually and physically design, the machinery still remains an ‘advanced topic’ in academic curriculum. The madMeshMaker dissolves this notion, allowing any novice to digital technologies to easily create a virtual model embedded with the information necessary to communicate with a CNC router.

The application is intended to be distributed to freshmen architecture/design/art students, allowing them to rapidly explore and experiment with integrated digital design/fabrication technologies. With the madMeshMaker lowering the barriers-of-use, students are able to experiment more freely with the limits of what the fabrication technology can and cannot do … getting them to explore a surface through various materials, toolpaths, toolbit profiles, etc. By incorporating the application as a pedagogical tool in the beginning stages of their formal education, the goal of the madMeshMaker is to enable future designers to push beyond the conventional uses of the technology, and cultivate novel methods of design and production.

demo video


::click to enlarge::

modeling environment

mesh manipulation


::initial material/toolpath experiments::

eps foam with helical straight bit

birch plywood with ballnose bit


::a variety of tooling profiles with which to experiment::


::for full workflow documentation, please see below::

::or find it on flickr::

made with processing: initial code adapted from and openGL, peasyCam, controlP5, and dxf exporter libraries.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Madeline, this was strong work — congrats. Please embed your Prezi into the blog, and incorporate other documentation as appropriate/possible. Here are the remarks from the crit.-GL

    Nice impetus, to make a tool for the freshmen — a good starting point, an anchor point from which to start, conceive and critique the development of your project.

    This project is nicely conceived: a tool for freshmen, on “day one”, to produce a form and output it physically, without needing to learn a complicated modeling package first.

    Nice use of simple physics — contrast with control-point based editing in a program like Maya.

    fucking awesome possum – here is reference for more work like this

    the kiddos will like this

    There is a point to be made for making people do this by hand first so that they appreciate the machines better when they do later get to use them. The tool itself is pretty cool though

    Nice way of presenting the interface without a demo.

    Like how the interaction of the program is so playful — as opposed to being bogged down by technical details, it really drives home the concept of this being a tool to learn/walk through the router process.

    NIce approach. I can see the value immediately.

    I’d like to use it some time. Really enjoyed your presentation. You’ve done a great job!

    This is really, really slick. I think you should definitely pursue this for your final project. I think it’d be really nice if you could allow people to more precisely adjust their mesh, in case they don’t want to create a huge bubble in their mesh and let it settle out to some shape. They might want to use the resulting mesh as the ground for some sort of architectural model, and it’d be nice to be able to precisely create hills and valleys of different heights.

    Nice motivation for the project. Impressive job with the interface/meshmaker as well.

    Fully Sick! SChool some first years!

    The accessibility of this is super-awesome.

    A+ for real-world application. Always good to teach the youngins the ol’ CnC.

    The forms are great. I like that you skipped the finishing pass, gives it a really great texture.

    This is fantastic. I still find the cnc daunting and I’m most of the way through a digital fabrication class- making it more accessible right off the bat will certainly help the learning process.

    I would have liked to have seen the software before the forms, I think starting by showing everyone the output kind of shows your hand too early. Not to say you’re not holding a good hand, I just would have liked to have been pleasantly surprised. Your software is really smooth.

    Wow pretty cool idea. Good good of giving new students the ability to see the CNC process. I would definately need it.

    Riley’s right, may want to have the spacebar or something be a toggle to lock your mouse transformations in place while you play with sliders.

    It would be great if you could bypass the mastercam software. It sucks.

    Great idea for getting people into building physical models right away.

    Nice! I like the functionality.

    Comment by Golan Levin — 23 March 2011 @ 4:32 pm

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