Designers, crafters, producers and makers in the Western Cape, along with anybody working in or studying design, art or engineering, can now utilise a new space in which to explore and develop their ideas.
The Cape Craft and Design Institute’s (CCDI) Product Support Space (PSS) in located in Cape Town. The space comprises the former FabLab, an assisted DIY computer-aided design and manufacturing environment, with new research and design computers, along with a variety of other machinery.
Specialist staff are on hand at the PSS for technical assistance and design advice. They are also help to help users with the various tools and fabrication processes. Working with machinery, these full-time staff are also trained in first aid.
While the service is free, users do need to book an appointment for one hour sessions. The session includes a consultation and the assisted use of the tools.
The CCDI product support manager, Alan Alborough says: "The space is essentially an assisted DIY environment, where you can progress from idea conceptualisation to its physical manifestation with the appropriate support, infrastructure, tools and equipment."
The PSS is divided into two main sections, a research and design area, and a tool room. The research and design area consists of a central consultation and planning area, with computers for both research and design. The design computers use open source software, as well as sophisticated two-and three-dimensional software. Some are for designing towards fabrication, like laser and vinyl cutters, while others have programmess such as digitising embroidery software. There are also two computers with surface design software, which can be used to create patterns, logos and designs for products such as textiles or prints.
The tool room has a wide range of conventional hand and power tools that can be used for fixing, cutting, marking, scoring, gluing, sawing and hammering together all types of materials. There are also other popular machines such as a laser cutter, a vinyl cutter and an embroidery machine. Newly installed machines include a heat press for transfers, a line bender for bending perspex accurately, and a hot wire cutter for cutting foam into all kinds of shapes.