Spring 2018 - IAT 437 D100

Representation and Fabrication (3)

Class Number: 4701

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    SUR 5380, Surrey

  • Prerequisites:

    48 units and IAT 336



Introduces computer-based tools for representing and fabricating designs. Covers the representation of work within a design process, the use of visualization techniques to communicate with clients, and the use of digital fabrication technology to build prototypes. Projects are chosen to highlight key representational issues in contemporary design practice.


This course introduces students to advanced computer tools for representing designs and to the techniques needed to use such tools for accurate and precise specification, including concepts of tolerances.  It teaches how to use data from such representations as input to computer numerical control fabrication equipment (such as laser cutters, 3D printers and n-axis mills) and combine representation and fabrication into an iterative design process.  Application to designing a family of related artifacts provides a context in which issues of reuse, design rules and inter-design coherence are crucial. This course comprises three parts as follows.

  • The first part is instruction in representations for designs, including sketching, advanced solid modeling, parametric modeling, and methods of representing object behavior and analysis. The part includes an introduction to the use of physical fabrication tools such as laser cutters, 3D printers and n-axis milling machines.
  • The second part is use of representation and fabrication with a design project that stresses the need for such capability. An example problem would be to create a family of related kinetic objects, such as kinetic sculptures. This involves exploration and use of basic laws of physics to build mechanically functional and meaningful interactive structures.
Learning Activities:
The course is built around interrelated conceptual and hands-on learning activities. Beside the content presented in the lecture, the students are going to complete the following activities during the labs:
  • Assignments: The objective is individually to prepare the students at the skill-level, for the course project. There are four goals of the assignments each of which is based on and continuation of the previous one: a. learning to use software through modeling existing objects (reverse engineering); b. designing an object derived from the modeled object; c. utilizing software to configure for variations using the new design model; and d. presenting designs and variations. 
  • Project: The project is planned to advance the students’ knowledge and skills in digital and analog representations while improving their skills in creating and using design representations in a collaborative setting. The most relevant issues in design that the students will explore in this project are: a. developing a product platform with its individual parts; b. defining properties of parts parametrically to explore variation in dimensions and shape; c. creating different designs using the parts defined in the platform; and d. switching between digital and analog representations in the process. 


By the end of the course, the students will be able to:

  • Represent particularly spatial and physical properties of design solutions in computational design tools using parametric and constraint based methods 
  • Reason and select representation techniques that match the nature of design solution 
  • Use digital representations as input to build physical models of designs 
  • Move strategically between digital and physical representations of design for agility
  • Define coherence of design ideas, design rules, and reusable solutions.
  • Use analog, digital, and physical representations in design and particularly design of family of (interactive and kinetic) artifacts.


  • Assignments 25%
  • Midterm Exam 25%
  • Course Project 40%
  • Participation and Quizes 10%


Special Note - Lab Fee:
A non-refundable course materials lab fee of $71.40 will be collected from all students taking this course to cover
the costs of consumable materials and machine use in the prototyping lab.


Training Requirements:
Students are required to complete SFU Lab Safety Orientation offered by EHS and attend an in-lab orientation session offered by SIAT to use the SolidSpace Lab. If the orientation and training have been successfully completed in the proceeding two years, this requirement is waived by the permission of the lab technician and the instructor.



Reference readings:
“Digital Design and Manufacturing:  CAD/CAM Applications in Architecture and Design” (2006) by Daniel Shodek, Martin Bechthold, Kimo Griggs, Kenneth Martin Kao and Marco Steinberg

“SolidWorks 2013 Bible” (2013) by Matt Lombard; Wiley. ISBN: 1118508408

"Product Design for Manufacture and Assembly" by Geoffrey Boothroyd, Peter Dewhurst, and Winston A. Knight, CRC Press 2001, Second Edition, Revised and Expanded [online through SFU library Product Design for Manufacture and Assembly]

"Frameworks for Product Family Design and Development", Fabrice Alizon, Kiran Khadke, Henri J. Thevenot, John K. Gershenson, Tucker J. Marion, Steven B. Shooter and Timothy W. Simposon, Concurrent Engineering 2007 15: 187, [online through SFU library - Frameworks for Product Family Design and Development]

"Rapid Design through Virtual and Physical Prototyping" by Yi Zhang with Susan Finger and Stephannie Behrens [Rapid Design through Virtual and Physical Prototyping]

"Product Design" (2011) by Alex Milton and Paul Rodgers, Laurence King Publisher [Available through SFU Library as digital book]

"The Design of Future Things" (2009) by Donald Norman, Basic Books Publisher [Available through SFU Library as digital book]

"Elements of Parametric Design" (2010) by Robert Woodbury. ISBN: 0415779871

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html