Design For Manufacturability in the Architectural Field

Having a vivid imagination in the design world is an asset, but being able to realistically apply it in the real world is a learned skill.

Within the Department of Architectural Technology at the New York City College of Technology (CUNY) , the Introduction to Computation and Fabrication course aims to teach students introductory CNC techniques, with added focus on Design for Manufacturability.

Using parametric software such as Grasshopper in combination with RhinoCAM, students are taught to create their own tool paths. These tool paths are then “proofed” on a CNC machine using a variety of materials, such as Precision Board, to analyze the design for imperfections or errors.

If the student has designed a complex tool path with many tight, narrow valleys, they may realize as a consequence that the machining time is far too long – with the result being a design that no customer could afford.

If the tool path proves successful, the design is then produced on materials including Precision Board Plus HDU. The goal of this is to teach students that when they design something, they should also have a pretty good idea of the output technology required to bring their design to life.

Additional information on the Introduction to Computation and Fabrication course, taught by prof. Anne Leonhardt and Zach Downey, can be seen at:

Brian Ringley, Technology Coordinator for the National Science Foundation ATE Fuse Lab grant program which initiated the course, sent us pictures of several projects featuring Precision Board donated by Coastal Enterprises from their exhibitions.

These pictures show student-created projects made using Precision Board Plus PBLT-4, PBLT-6 and PBLT-8 for the Intersections 2013 exhibition:




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This project was created by esteemed artist and designer Francis Bitonti as part of a student-artist collaboration exhibit called “Intersections” held in 2012. The project is titled the “Schistose Mirror” and shows Precision Board Plus PBLT-10 mounted onto Trupan MDF being cut on a CNC router. After it was CNC cut it was professionally painted by an auto body shop. See more work from Francis Bitonti at:







Teaching The Architects of Tomorrow: Studio Mode


Utilizing the latest in CNC technology, Studio Mode examines the materials, tools and procedures of craft with the goal of shedding new light into the field of architecture. Instructors Ronnie Parsons and Gil Akos teach future architects and engineers at the Pratt School of Undergraduate Architecture in Brooklyn, NY.

They recently exhibited several projects using Precision Board Plus HDU at the Intersections Exhibition held at the New York City College of Technology. The exhibition was a symposium on the topic of leading edge technology and design.

Studio Mode projects are very research oriented, and often require lots of material in order for students to experiment and test design ideas in the digital crafting field. Because of this, Coastal Enterprises donated pallets of Precision Board Plus and students have used it for several projects. Using , students create their own tool paths instead of using generic models. Precision Board Plus is then machined to create digitally-fabricated prototypes for display at the Intersections Exhibition.

Studio Mode is a design studio and research collective committed to design as a form of applied research. Case studies and examinations of different materials and processes by which they are formed are a large part of the research performed by Studio Mode. The evolution and contextualization of these procedures in a broader social and cultural domain is the primary objective and means for bringing interest and significance to design. Students who graduate from Studio Mode typically move into architecture and industrial design careers. More info can be seen on Studio Mode’s website at