CNC, robotic tools, and digital fabrication are beginning to have an impact on residential and commercial construction. In 2008, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in NYC featured five digitally fabricated houses that were installed on site at the Museum. To one degree or another, these houses all relied on CNC for precise cutting of components, cost reduction and simplification of assembly. ShopBot's contribution to the MoMA display of new technology for homebuilding is unique. It started with a production process set up by Bill Young that cuts each piece of a digital house.
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ShopBot Cuts CNC Houses

Bill at controls of one of the PRSalpha tools in new shop.    New shop with 2 PRSalpa ShopBots

Bill's House Factory

Bill Young's project: Cutting the 600+ sheets of plywood that made up the fascinating "yourHouse: Digitally Fabricated Housing for New Orleans' house that was assembled at the Museum of Modern Art - MoMA - in New York City. The "yourHouse" project was a concept from Larry Sass, architect and MIT professor, who is attempting to harness the speed and precision of digital CNC cutters to fabricate simple shelters quickly and inexpensively. With Larry's building technique, joinery takes the form of precise, interlocking notches and grooves rather than traditional screws or nails. And, the structure was cut completely on a ShopBot ...
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The Project

CNC and Traditional Construction

Traditional construction can also benefit from the use of CNC. Enterprising residential and commercial contractors are now using CNC technology to implement new and better building methods. Both interior and exterior components in a variety of materials can be accurately cut or machined to shape using a CNC router. Maintenance-free materials, such as PVC, can be cut to produce exterior design elements for new or restoration-type work. Victorian gingerbread, corbels, railing structures and even arched trim and moldings are easily created on the CNC. Specialized support materials, sheet goods and cladding can be sized and populated with cut-outs and exactly placed through holes, ready to be placed into position.

ShopBot's gantry tools can deliver construction support from the warehouse or nearby factory for these types of projects. Precise components and assemblies can be made ready for delivery to the site as they are needed and requested from the job.

ShopBot's new, highly mobile ShopBot Buddy® CNC tools take it a step further, bringing CNC right to the job site with PowerSticks that allow many configurations for robotic cutting and machining of sheet materials or lumber, right on the site.

Having a job-related catalog of parts at hand in software, can produce substantial savings and improved quality especially when multiple parts are needed in a structure, or across a subdivision. And consider the scenario of a new component with an unusual shape. You've just received the new piece as a file in an email from an architect. All you'll do is bring the file into ShopBot's PartWorks design software, position it in the outline of your raw material or lumber, and you're ready to cut the part, no matter how intricate, curved or complex.

Import a DXF file into the ShopBot PartWorks CAD/CAM interface. There you can scale and position the part on an electronic version of your material - in this case a 4X8 sheet of ¾” PVC. Create some toolpaths and save them to the ShopBot’s computer. Then run the part file, and the ShopBot cuts your parts with precision and speed.

CNC and SIP Panel Construction


Structural Insulated Panels, or SIPs, are now being used all over the world to create a more energy- and labor-efficient solution to traditional stick construction. Typically composed of two sheets of OSB sandwiching a sheet of polystyrene or polyurethane foam, SIPs can be cut on an extra-large ShopBot CNC router. The cut panels are ready to install, with rough-outs for all window and door openings, cut exactly according to plan. As the panels come off of the ShopBot, they are numbered and stacked in sequence, making assembly a straightforward process.


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Each new ShopBot tool comes bundled with two powerful software programs to create CNC projects.

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