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New Department of Theatre fabrication tool takes role in upcoming “The Rivals” production

14 Mar , 2019  

by guest bloggers Michaela Funtanilla amd April Goddard 

Imagination is the only limitation for Department of Theatre set and prop design students, thanks to the department’s acquisition of a state-of-the-art Shopbot CNC machine. It was purchased by an anonymous donor in summer 2018.

“Our production capabilities have in the past been greatly limited in time and budget. By having CNC technology available in our small shop, we can now think and create with fewer constraints,” said Department of Theatre’s Technical Director, Kyle Becker.

Similar to a 3D printer, the Shopbot CNC uses computer drawings (CAD) to operate. But instead of additive manufacturing, the Shopbot cuts out shapes from materials like wood, plastic, foam soft metal, and composites.

The machine can print up to an 8×4 ft sheet of material—larger 3D designs require cutting out multiple pieces to then assemble into a sculpture. Prior to owning this CNC tool, limited projects were outsourced, but this was too expensive to do regularly.

Now that the Department of Theatre owns its own CNC tool, the possibilities are endless, and projects that took days to build can be completed in minutes.

“We can ask the machine to 3D carve and 2D cut without these tasks consuming time and money that can go to other areas like assembly and painting,” said Becker.

CNC machines are standard technology in the performance art design industry. Students can receive training on the CNC tool though the department’s Computer Modeling and Design course, and become more competitive for set design jobs in theatre, film, and theme parks. Becker said he would eventually like to partner with local high school theatre programs to increase CNC machine education.

The Rivals opens 4/5 and will be the first set to highlight the Shopbot’s capabilities as the set requires intricate architectural facades. Buy your tickets at ticket.utah.edu.

 

Original article by The Finer Points Blog


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