MIT’s Media Lab has created a very cool handheld milling device, which gives the designer something old, but also something new. FreeD is a device that combines the traditional art of handcrafting and digital tech in sculpting. The golden ticket is the freedom to create and craft pieces out of wood and to have the software to assist in refining the final design. In practice, this means that after the basic 3D design of an object is created with CAD software, the milling process begins without limits. After the basic structure has been carved out of the block of the chosen material, the software assists the carver by slowing the spindle speed down or by drawing the entire shaft back, enabling a perfect outcome regardless of the maker’s handcrafting skills.
What kind of results can be achieved by using FreeD? Watch the video below for some example carvings and on an overview of the process.
Combining digital tech with traditional means of fabrication is not groundbreaking per se, but FreeD is still a great reminder of how new technology, especially different AM technologies, can enhance handcrafting skills — the human aspect if you like — within the design process. My personal view is that all new tech, whether of this nature or more specifically 3D printing, enables designers to go further creatively and it is not ‘replacing’ the human component from the design equation in any way.
Source: MIT Media Lab