Manscan: A Collaborative Support Structure

Manscan is a collaborative chair project developed in tandem with ITP classmate Greg Borenstein. We set out to fabricate a support structure that playfully references the act of sitting and the form of a chair simultaneously. In doing so, we’re collaborating both physically and intellectually on a project that explores a new approach to CNC milling. A three-dimensional Kinect scan of Greg and me in a back-to-back position provided the data necessary to begin the multi-stage preparation for fabrication.

Translating the point cloud generated with the Kinect to machine code readable by a CNC router occupied the bulk of our project time. This involved bringing the original scan into MeshLab to clean up the image and create solid surfaces. The file was then imported into Vectorworks in order to make additional adjustments and export the project in a format that could be opened by the NC programming software, MasterCam. Once tool paths were defined in MasterCam, we finally had the G-code to operate the router.

Our first prototype was completed at a small scale in blue foam. The finish is rough but the execution was successful. Charting a path from image data to physical object took more turns than expected and, all the while, we were still familiarizing ourselves with the CNC router. I anticipate that, from here, more straightforward applications of the CNC will feel like a breeze. Which is good because I’m enthusiastic about the ways in which digital fabrication opens new channels between media and form—or, in this case, foam.