EDPX 3701 Digital Fabrication (W18)


Catalog Description:

This course will cover several techniques for taking digital creations into the physical world. The focus will be on the transformations into the different materials and how it affects concepts and ideas. Techniques used could include 3-D printing, laser cutting, plotting, CNC milling, and others. Experience with 3-D modeling recommended. Prerequisite: EDPX 2000. Lab fee.

Contact information

Associate Professor Chris Coleman

Office: Room 216A Sturm Hall

Office Hours: 4-6pm Tuesday and Thursday or by appt.

Email: Christopher.Coleman@du.edu

Course Overview

Moving from the digital space to physical space requires a series of constructions and translations. The software tools that make this possible are varied and range from tens of thousands of dollars to free. Likewise, the hardware tools have long been too expensive for personal use, but that is quickly changing. We will look at three fabrication processes this quarter and the many tools you might use to create and translate for them. Students different skill levels will determine their preferred directions and toolsets. Additional discussions and experiments will involve materials and materiality; the look, feel, grain, strength, color, and finish of an object can change how it is read/received. Threaded through all of this we will focus on pattern – the way repeated forms can create complexity and variation.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course you will:

  • Understand the processes of digital plotting
  • Understand the processes of 3D printing
  • Understand the processes of 3D milling
  • Understand the process of vacuum forming
  • Understand the differences and strengths of different materials
  • Understand how to prepare digital files for physical re-creation
  • Consider the consequences and choices surrounding the creation of physical things


  • A storage device such as a flash drive or portable hard drive with at least 8GB of space and a way to back up your files
  • Laptop that you can install various free software onto
  • Reading materials and examples will be supplied digitally on this website


This class will combine individual work in the lab with individual and group instruction. Students must come to class prepared to work. Showing up without necessary files or equipment is the same as not attending. Although students may also use their home computers to work on projects, this is not a valid reason to not attend. It will be necessary to work outside of class to complete all projects and assignments. A minimum of six hours per week of work outside of class is suggested to get an average grade of a C. Computer failure, equipment malfunction, and file corruption are not accepted as excuses for late or unfinished work so BACK UP YOUR WORK. The computer labs are used by many students, so the labs are in high demand. Budget time accordingly as “unavailable computer time” will also not be accepted as an excuse. Participation in all class discussions and critiques, as well as constructive use of lab time, is considered in the final grade for each project. At any time in the creation process, students should be able to produce notes, drawings, charts etc from their sketchbooks, as well as discuss and articulate the nature of their work to their peers as well as to the instructor.

Attendance is mandatory. Attending class is the responsibility of the student. Lectures and demonstrations may be given or changed without notice and some classes will start with professional examples of relevant work so punctuality is essential. An individual who is absent, late or sleeps during class will be responsible for getting the information missed. Students will be allowed two (2) absences without penalty. Any absence in excess of two will result in a 10% grade reduction of the final grade for the course per absence. All absences will be counted. A student who misses 15 minutes or more of a class (late or leave early) is considered absent. A student who sleeps will be considered absent. A student who will acquire absences due to University-sponsored activities must provide necessary documentation from the appropriate office prior to the absence to make any special arrangements for missed work.

University policy grants students excused absences from class or other organized activities or observance of religious holy days unless the accommodation would create an undue hardship. You must notify me by the end of the first week of classes if you have any conflicts that may require an absence. It is your responsibility to make arrangements with me in advance to make up any missed work or in-class material.

Any special medical or personal problems that occur, where absenteeism will exceed the allowed two, will require verification by a physician or emergency medical association (a letter from Student Affairs merely explains an absence, and will not qualify as an excuse). These situations may require course withdrawal or “Incomplete” status on the final grade. Six absences mandate an automatic grade of “F.” Three late arrivals (less than 15 min.) will equal one absence.

If you qualify for academic accommodations because of a disability or medical issue please submit a Faculty Letter to me from Disability Services Program (DSP) in a timely manner so that your needs may be addressed. DSP is located on the 4thfloor of Ruffatto Hall; 1999 E. Evans Ave.303.871. / 2372 / 2278/ 7432. Information is also available online at http://www.du.edu/disability/dsp; see the Handbook for Students with Disabilities.

As part of the University’s Culture of Care & Support, we provide campus resources to create access for you to maintain your safety, health, and well-being. We understand that as a student you may experience a range of issues that can cause barriers to learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol/drug concerns depression, difficulty concentrating and/or lack of motivation. These stressful moments can impact academic performance or reduce your ability to engage. The University offers services to assist you in addressing these or ANY other concerns you may be experiencing. If you or someone you know are suffering from any challenges, you should reach out for support. You can seek confidential mental health services available on campus in the Health & Counseling Center (HCC). Another helpful resource is Student Outreach & Support (SOS), where staff work with you to connect to all the appropriate campus resources (there are many!), develop a plan of action, and guide you in navigating challenging situations. If you are concerned about one of your peers you can submit a report through our Pioneers Care System. More information about HCC, SOS, and Pioneers CARE can be found at:

Health & Counseling Services (http://www.du.edu/health-and-counseling-center/)

Student Outreach & Support and Pioneers Care reporting http://www.du.edu/studentlife/studentsupport/

In this class, we will work together to develop a learning community that is inclusive and respectful. Our diversity may be reflected by differences in race, culture, age, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, and myriad other social identities and life experiences. The goal of inclusiveness, in a diverse community, encourages and appreciates expressions of different ideas, opinions, and beliefs, so that conversations and interactions that could potentially be divisive turn instead into opportunities for intellectual and personal enrichment.

A dedication to inclusiveness requires respecting what others say, their right to say it, and the thoughtful consideration of others’ communication. Both speaking up and listening are valuable tools for furthering thoughtful, enlightening dialogue. Respecting one another’s individual differences is critical in transforming a collection of diverse individuals into an inclusive, collaborative and excellent learning community. Our core commitment shapes our core expectation for behavior inside and outside of the classroom.


Grades will consist of the following:

  • Project 1 @ 20%
  • Project 2 @ 20%
  • Project 3 @ 20%
  • Process Blog @ 20%
  • Participation @ 10%
  • Cultural Events @ 10%

Projects will be graded on the following basis, listed in order of importance.

  • Development, creativity, and originality of concept or problem solution
  • Technical development and demonstration of skills
  • Craftsmanship and presentation of work
  • Participation in classroom discussions and critiques in connection with the work

Your grade will be calculated according to the following standards:

  • A = Excellent (100-90%)- work pushes far beyond the project stipulations and shows clear evidence of extreme time, dedication, care and thought about the project as evidenced in effective execution of original/thoughtful ideas.
  • B = Good (80-89%)- work exceeds the basic criteria, provides creative solutions to the problems and shows technical proficiency. The student has made the project “theirs” in that they do not need to explain project stipulations before showing the work.
  • C = Average (70-79%)- work fulfills all requirements, does not expand on techniques shown in class, ideas are close derivations of popular culture.
  • D = Unsatisfactory (60-69%)- work might meet basic criteria but in a careless and/or thoughtless way. Technical proficiency is rudimentary and no chances were taken.
  • F = Failure (0-59%)- the work does not meet the basic criteria.

Late projects will be penalized a letter grade for every class period they are late. Turning a project in after the beginning of the critique counts as one class day late.

Graduate Student Requirements

Students taking the course for graduate credit will be required to produce one additional project or project feature whose requirements are designed in conversation with the instructor. For all projects and assignments, they are held to a higher standard, reflecting their graduate status.

Cultural Events

Students are required to attend at least 3 cultural events and write a 2 paragraph response (half descriptive and half reflective) for each event as well as include a picture from the event. The cultural event should be related to Emergent Digital Practices and could include performances, lectures, art shows etc. If you are unsure the event is qualified, please ask the instructor ahead of time. The responses should be added to your blog and labeled clearly.

Process Blog

A key piece of your work this quarter will be documenting your process on a blog. The general structure for each entry will be as follows:

  • Research and inspirations: this section should include ideas, quotes, snippets of readings, embedded videos, inspirational images, links related to the course or a current assignment/project
  • Progress and process: this section should include in-progress images of projects and assignments, scanned sketches, descriptions of progress
  • Reflection: Write briefly to evaluate how you are doing and what you have done that week.

It is expected that each entry is comprised of more than two paragraphs of text and several images or other media. These entries must be completed before the start of the Tuesday class period. You will be graded each week on these entries, so there will be at least 10 of them and they must be labeled per week.

Lab Rules

It is your responsibility to adhere to all rules regarding the use of the EDP labs and equipment. Please see the program assistant in the EDP office if you need a form to access the EDP lab in 211 Sturm.


Solutions to assignments you submit will be your own work. A student who is discovered to have plagiarized another’s work will immediately receive a grade of F for the course, and a recommendation for disciplinary action will be forwarded to the Dean of Students.


While you are not required to purchase the software that we are using, not having the software is no excuse for failing to complete your projects. It is your responsibility to work out times when you can use the EDP labs or make other arrangements for doing your work. Please do not download and/or install trial versions of this software or any other onto campus computers. Students will utilize several software packages over the process of this course.

Course Outline

(The following schedule is open to revision at any point in the quarter.)

  • 1/4 – Syllabus, Intros, Example artworks
  • 1/9 – Discussions of Patterns in culture and art, vector formats
  • 1/11 – making and playing with patterns
  • 1/16 – Using the plotter, colors and pen types, test 1
  • 1/18 – Test 2, pattern refinement
  • 1/23 – Final Plots and preparing for display
  • 1/25 – Project 1 Due
  • 1/30 – Anatomy of a 3D model, manifoldness, boolean, formats
  • 2/1 – modelbuilder shells, using the 3D printers, slicing, gcode
  • 2/6 – MeshMixer
  • 2/8 – Structure Synth
  • 2/13 – Testing and alt-materials
  • 2/15 – Refining Prints and cleaning
  • 2/20 – Project 2 Due
  • 2/22 – Engineering trip, cnc intro, vacu-form intro
  • 2/27 – G-code generators, surfaces, Textures, displacement maps
  • 3/1 – Small tests, materials
  • 3/6 – Full size Milling, finishing
  • 3/8 – Vac-forming
  • 3/13 – refining and finishing surfaces
  • 3/15 – Project 3 Due, Final Crit

Project 1:

Choose or create 3 “logos” in vector form. Deconstruct them so that they exist as representations or “suggestions” as opposed to specific companies or products. Enhance the ideas of each of the three deconstructed logos with a patterned background. Explore how the background and foreground can become expanded or collapsed. Create 3 finished plots at least 6” square that include each of these logo/pattern explorations. Consider the medium and the pen type, color, thickness, presentation and how they relate to the logo/pattern.


– Lecture One

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