Eric Hunting Resource Guide

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I've been mulling this over for a time and I think I can offer a list of some things to get this started. Some of this relates to research I've been doing on a T-Slot sourcebook. The outline order is not that orderly, since I was pulling a lot of things from memory, bookshelves, and loose bookmarks, but it's a start. I tried to find an order by age or sophistication within sub-categories. Other approaches may be better. I've also listed a lot of commercial sources as examples rather than sticking with just open source projects, since there are very few for many areas of technology other than software.

Open Source Tools: (these would ultimately follow the same break-down as the Commercial Tools, only they are very few at the moment)


- Second open source fabber -


- Open CNC machine design based on hexapod/Stewart platform structure. Under development, not yet prototyped -

NIST RoboCrane

Relatively simple cable-based Stewart platform system built with T-Slot and suited to numerous very large area machine and robot applications such as extremely large scale CNC. Not intended to be open source technology, but, as a publicly funded research project, potentially readily acquired for such projects and another good example of T-Slot based tool design -

NIST RoboCrane

BugLabs Platform

Open Source software based (but not hardware) modular electronics platform for personal gadgets -

Commercial Tools:

(obviously, this cannot cover all such tools. I'm focussing on a selection of the more advanced tools like that of the Fab Labs that are potentially leveraging independent production) 


(reconfigurable machine tools based on modular components):


6 in 1 modular miniature machine tool based on a T-Slot structure. The most advanced model is suited to light metals and potentially adaptable into a CNC platform. A good example of using T-Slot for the design of small tool systems.

Sign/Vinyl Cutters:

Laser Cutter/Engravers: Hydrocutters: Multi-Axis Milling Machines:


Line of small adaptable table-top lathes and milling machines with CNC options.

CNC Machines


Line of table-based CNC platforms based on T-Slot chassis for DIY assembly. Can employ router and plasma cutter heads. Good example of T-Slot use for large scale machine tool designs.

Flat Bed Printers:

Rapid Prototyping Systems/3D Printers:

Z Corp 3D Printers

- Leading line of rapid prototyping systems with full color capability -

3D Scanners:


Design/Engineering Tools:

Physical Desig, CAD/Visualization, Simulation/Analysis:


Free basic 3D modeling package sponsored by Google. Available for Mac and PC platforms. Compatible with 3Dconnexxion space mouse devices. I'm pretty strong with this application, though far from an expert--Dennis 17:23, 12 March 2009 (UTC)

Plumbing/Hydraulics/Pneumatics/Pneudraulics, fluid/pneumatic circuit design :

Circuit Design, PCB-CAD, SPICE, VHDL, ETL, RTL

Phonics, optics simulation:

Software, platforms, languages, editors, APIs:

(there should be a lot of Linux related links for this section)

Fabrication Technologies: (Here we have a breakdown of fabrication technologies which would be used to categorize specific links and references. I am making here the distinction here between fabrication -the creation of largely monolithic objects- and building or construction -the assembly of an artifact from parts)

Spinning/Weaving: Felting: Spinning, hand, machine: Spinneret Extrusion: Looms, hand, machine, digital: Knitting, hand, machine, digital: Embroidery:


Papermaking: Parchment: Vellum: Pulp Paper: Synthetic:

Bookbinding: Hard Cover: Soft Cover:


Hand Sculpting: Papier Mache: Origami: Potterywork: Hand Forming: Coiling: Throwing (wheel pottery): Jiggering (wheel lathing):


Blown: Free-Form: Crown: Cylinder: Blown formed: Lampworking: Caneworking: Cast: Pressed: Rolled: Float Glass:




Machining: Breaks, Benders: Die-Cutters: Milling (drills, saws, grinders, sanders, routers, lathes, multi-axis milling): CNC: Flat-Bed Routers: Sign Cutters: Hydrocutters: Laser Cutters, Drills, Engravers:

Forming: Hammer Shaping/Blacksmithing: Presses/Stampers: Casting/Molding: Investment Casting: Die Casting: Embeddment/Suspension Casting: Compression Molding: Thermoforming: Vacuum Forming: Blow-Molding: Injection Molding: Rotomolding: Laminating: Extrusion:

Surfacing: Painting: Etching, Relief Carving: Tiling, Mosaic, Inlay: Decoupage:

Lithography/Printing: Traditional: Plate (fixed and rotary): Photolithography: Xerography: Digital Xerography: Digital Impact: Thermal Print: Thermojet (inkjet): Beam (electron, ion): Laser Engraving, 3D Engraving: Laser Bonding:

Fabbing/Rapid Prototyping/Stereo Lithography/3D Printing:

Culturing: Trained and Pleached Wood/Bamboo Structures:

Modular Building Systems: (here I've put in some descriptions from my work on the T-slot Sourcebook. This is an example of how the fabrication and engineering sections would be fleshed-out)

Matrix/Box Beam/Grid Beam

Matrix is the modular building system invented by designer Ken Isaacs in the 1950s based on square holed wood, aluminum, or steel struts/beams joined with 'trilap' bolted joints and using a scalable regular geometry. One of the earliest deliberately open source building systems. Box Beam Sourcebook How To Make Your Own Living Structures by ken Isaacs The Box Beam Sourcebook by Richard Jergensen

LifeTrac Questions#square tube construction techniques

Holed Profile

Construction based on tubular, 'L' shaped, and flat allow struts with regularly spaced holes. Though the technology is public domain, geometries are not standard from one manufacturer to another, though some are compatible with the geometry of Matrix. Popularized with the classic building toys Mechano and Erector Set. Commonly used for laboratory equipment, prototype machines, and simple home-brew construction before being supplanted by T-Slot.

Plate Frame Systems

Plate frame systems are most commonly seen in the electronics industry today but had their origins in the engineering of watches, clocks, and other gear-based mechanical systems and are commonly employed as the basis of electronics and machine 'chassis' structures, though they have often been employed in other uses and have featured in such things as novel furniture designs. They are based on the use of rigid plates of alloy, wood, plastics, and composites which are formed into stacks through the use of pins, posts, or blocks held in place by screws. This structure forms the basis of a frame holding static and movable components between the plates which, through the use of holes and surface-mounted fittings, hold parts in place from one or two sides. In electronics plates are usually formed of composite circuit board materials -and in earlier times materials known as 'phenolics' or 'phenolic composites' such as the well known Bakelite. In mechanical systems such as clocks alloys are the norm and may often be cut with openings for variably sized parts held in multiple stacks or to minimize weight or simply to create 'reveals' of the works for decoration. In decorative or educational machines such as 'visible' clocks clear plastic plates are sometimes used. Not strictly a true modular building system in the past, the use of plate materials with regular quadratic hole grids have sometimes been employed, particularly for the prototyping of electronics circuits and for some construction toys based on the technology. Though greatly declining in use in machine design in the late 20th century, it has seen a revival specifically in the maker movement as a result of the limitation of many early fab tools to cutting sheet material, thus inspiring new invention with plate frame designs.

Rod & Clamp Framing

Currently typified by its use as a framing system for the RepRap open fabber, this very old modular building system has obscure origins, possibly originating earlier than even the 19th century and may have derived from early scientific instrumentation. Very likely the origin of the concept of ball socket space frames. Based on the use of blocks with holes that clamp rods in place using a set-screw, the angle and placement of holes on the blocks determine the type of joint with 'trilap' joints supporting box frame structure common but with endless other possibilities such as octet and geodesic space frames. Blocks are typically equipped with additional fittings to support other components or cladding panels but rods can also be used to attach lighter objects or cladding using clips or simple 'C' clamps. Rods and blocks can also be used as parts of linear actuators and are sometimes precision ruled and engraved with ruling lines to allow for precision adjustable sliding elements. Produced with an endless assortment of materials but works best with alloy rods and alloy, plastic, or wood blocks and is usually limited to small light structures.

Pipe Fitting Systems

Possibly a derivative of Rod & Clamp systems, this common modular building system originated in the early 20th century and today has numerous producers worldwide. Popularized in the US under the brand name KeeKlamp. Public domain as a technology, but without an open source or public domain component set. Pipe Fitting Systems combine common galvanized pipe normally used for plumbing with sets of modular cast steel joints that clamp the pipes in place using a hex nut. Commonly used for institutional hand railing, playground equipment, industrial shelving, and greenhouse structures as well as many home-brew and temporary structures. Experimented with by Ken Isaacs in the 1960s as the basis of external support superstructures for lighter habitat structures.

Space Frame Systems

Appearing early in the 20th century, these systems were a particular fascination for Modernist designers but have never lived up to their early promise of being cheap and ubiquitous due to the inability -or refusal- of manufacturers to standardized on components across the industry. Used for everything from building toys to the largest clear-span buildings in the world, space frames are used as space-filling structures often based on octet geometry, planar trusses used for roof and floor decks, and as space enclosure systems such as the classic geodesic sphere or dome. Though once characterized as symbolic of Machine Age efficiency and expected to become ubiquitous, all commercial architectural uses of the technology to date have been based on manufacture-on-demand at outrageous cost premiums. Space frame systems come in the following types;

Ball Socket

uses nodal joints based on precision fabricated alloy balls with screw sockets that interface to screws on the ends of tubular alloy struts. The most common form of commercial space frame, popularized by the German Mero corporation. Often considered the strongest of the space frame joint schemes, typically only available as standardized off-the-shelf parts for very light systems used for kiosks and indoor store displays. Also considered the most sophisticated of space frame systems, it can employ the broadest range of materials for struts, including wood, plastic, FRP, fiberglass and carbon fiber composites, high-strength ceramics, and even solid wood or laminates. Even super-pressure pneumatic membrane struts have been used with this. Can be highly decorative with various anodized or powder coat treatments of parts or the use of wood or wood veneer over struts. The high precision needed for ball socket fabrication has long been a barrier to hobbyist or home-brew use of the type.

Novum (formerly Mero)

Cast Socket

uses nodal joints based on cast or milled alloys to which struts attach by bolts perpendicular to the strut. Very often uses square or rectangular tubular profiles for struts, offering more cladding options over ball socket systems but at a cost in aesthetics. Also often uses modular units for nodes to simplify their fabrication and allow for some variation of geometry from a smaller set of parts. Easier to fabricate than ball socket but still challenging for home-brew development.

Crimp and Clamp:

Specific to the use of enclosure space frames such as geodesic domes and to the use of light alloy tubular struts, is based on crimping the ends of struts then rolling their flattened ends to create a precision angled pin that is clamped in slotted tubular or solid cylinder node joints. Has the great advantage of reducing the node parts to simple standard shapes but the crimping and rolling of the struts tends to limit them to malleable steel alloys and highly stressed the metal, leading to potential fatigue failures that limits its use to light structures. Very common for playground domes and tent domes.

Plate Node

The simplest of space frame systems, is based on stamped alloy nodes that hold struts by perpendicular bolts. Largely the same as cast sockets save for the use of flat plate alloy that is stamped, folded, and rolled into the necessary shapes and sometime based on multiple pieces in order to sandwich struts between two or more plates for increased strength. Very commonly used for home-brew geodesic domes, is very commonly employed by DIY builders and is one of the few types that can effectively use wood as a strut material, thus it is standard for wood framed dome home products.

Plate Module:

A departure from traditional systems and a derivative of plate truss systems, plate module systems employ plates as both node AND strut, using a large triangulated piece of flat material that interfaces to others, often with the use of an alloy plate or other interface. Plates are often fashioned with an open space in their inner area but are also used 'closed web'. The approach is typified by the Fly's Eye Dome devised by Fuller but can be stronger when used as the basis of box trusses and planar truss structures. Typically based on stamped alloys, it can also use common sheet materials like plywood. Has recently been studied as the basis of robotic self-assembling space frames based on equipping each plate modular with active components that allow them to climb over each other and link into place with powered locking hinges.

Glue Socket:

A recent invention intended to find ways of using bamboo as a strut material in space frame structutres, glue socket space frames are inspired by classic wooden construction toys. Wooden blocks are precision milled to form nodal joins with hole sockets similar to ball socket nodes but shaped more like cast nodes. Struts of wood, engineered lumber, or bamboo are then inserted into the sockets and a high performance adhesive is pressure-injected into the socket to glue the strut permanently in place. High natural uniformity is necessary when using bamboo members.


Also called floating compression. First devised by Kenneth Snelson but often wrongly attributed to Buckminster Fuller who adopted the concept as an expression of his Synergetics concept, this class of space frame structures is based on combining tension cables and rigid struts in self-tensioned networks where struts join only to tension cables. One of the most sophisticated of space frame types, their full potential remains unexploited despite being well suited to Maker experimentation. Introduction of nanofiber cable materials is likely to see great expansion of this form of structure.

See wikipedia: Tensegrity

N55 Space Frame -

A unique variant of 'L' profile based holed profile systems using specially formed galvanized steel struts bolted together at nested ends to create and octet space frame structure. Can integrate roto-molded/blow-molded polyethylene containers also designed by N55 and open source. N55 Space Frame has a relatively high parts count for its structures but has been used to produce large and complex structures including buildings, floating platforms able to support buildings, suspended/hanging platforms, pontoon boats, and an endless variety of machines, furniture, and even sculptural objects.

Modular Wooden Post & Beam

The oldest of modular framing systems with examples thousands of years old, this building system is typified by pre-industrial architecture but is not exclusive to architectural uses. The most refined of the traditional Post & beam systems may come from the Japanese tradition with housing based on the 'ken' system of modularity based on the dimensional standards of tatami floor matting. Japanese architecture and furniture were often a source of inspiration to early Modernist designers. Wooden Post & Beam framing is usually based on simple rectilinear geometry and employs wooden posts and beams with integral carved wooden tongue & groove joint elements locked with sometimes hidden wooden pegs. Contemporary systems have employed steel plate secured by bolts. X and Y axis posts typically must employ different planes to interface at common posts, but Japanese and more contemporary joinery have sometimes overcome this limitation. Despite its age and natural modularity, no true standardized mass-produced systems have ever evolved. The Japanese systems came closest to realizing this before being supplanted by western building system with industrialization. Many modular systems have been developed on a per-design basis, but not as a generalized building system, though no technical obstacles exist for this. The chief obstacles for its common use today are the high skill required for fabrication of its joinery, the increasing scarcity and cost solid lumber of large dimensions, and the high mass of its components as architectural scales.

Bali-T Houses Polynesian-Modern style kit homes Shelter Kit - post & beam kit homes based on bolted joint systems - Kure-Tec steel plate joinery system for post & beam framing. (also used with Volkshaus system) -

Modular Block Masonry

Traditional block masonry, originating with the adobe block, is a very ancient building technology with the production of such blocks often considered the first form of mass production industry. But while such blocks are inherently modular themselves, this form of building has not often been regarded as a modular building system owing to the lack of direct interface between blocks. Adhesive mortar holds brick/block walls together, thus masonry has typically been seen as a means to create monolithic structures from small units. However, in the 20th century the ability to machine-produce blocks with much higher precision than before has lead to the use of direct block-to-block mechanical interfacing intended to reduce or eliminate the need for mortar in construction. This has also expanded the range of materials and uses for this beyond the architectural. However, as with many other forms of modular building, no definitive standard systems have ever evolved and one is usually limited to systems designed by a particular block manufacturer. Typified today by the construction toy Lego, modular block systems are characterized by the reliance upon a mechanical interface between blocks to hold them together rather than any kind of glue or mortar -though these may be used to create a water-proof seal- and the use of blocks of different shape to support the varying topology and features of a structure. Blocks may fit together in multiple planes of interface like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle or they may rely on a separate system of tie-rods, bolts, or pins which link them together. Traditional materials such as earth, clay, concrete, and stone are common -since this is still dominated by architectural uses- but many more materials are now used such as engineered lumber, engineered (cast) stone, gypsum composites, ceramics, cast and molded glass, shaped alloy profiles, and plastics. Recently, the use of blocks featuring active robotic systems allowing for self-assembly of structures and machines have been explored among robotics designers. Though a public domain technology in general, the only modular block systems to get close to an open source building system standard have been precision compressed earth block systems such as the Auram system. (

FRP Frame & Panel

A very recently introduced technology, FRP frame and panel systems are based on the use of fiberglass reinforced pultruded plastics extruded in systems of self-interlocking posts, beams and corrugated panels held together mechanically. Emerging mostly in industrial building uses, has been experimented with as the basis of housing on the premise that plastic is actually more environmentally sound than it has long been given credit for based on its use of recycled cellulose and the low energy overhead of its production compared to alloys and concrete. Currently no open source or public domain systems exist nor are there any truly standard systems independent of any one manufacturer, though there may be no obstacles to the creation of these. Little explored because of its newness, FRP has has much potential as a maker technology owing to the relatively small scale and low energy of pultrusion systems compared to alloy extrusion and the potential to develop epoxies that are low-toxic and plant sourced.

Modular Stressed Skin Systems

Stressed skin systems are typified by the semi-monocoque structures common to early aircraft and boats as well as 'woven panel domes' where a kind of geodesic dome is made by layered panels and tension structures where a tent-like membrane is tensioned by a system of frames or piers. Stressed skin systems are generally based on the combination of a 'skin' or 'hull' structure that is tensioned by either its own material stiffness or by a frame structure so as to translate localized compression forces into distributed tension forces. In effect. working in the manner of a 'closed web' or 'box' truss or a 'tensegrity' structure employing a skin rather than tension cables. Though a common structural technique, very few attempts have been made to modularize these systems on anything but a self-contained macrostructural element level -in effect using these kinds of structures as a whole unit element of a much larger structure. The International Space Station is a good example of this approach. However, in a few instances attempts at modularizing the component elements of a stressed skin structure have been explored, most commonly in the form of contemporary tents and tension structures and in the use of plywood or SIP (structural insulated panel) shell structures. Plywood domes (, hypoid or conics roof systems (, and systems like Vinay Gupta's Hexayurt ( may be some of the best current examples of this. In the 1960s designer Ken Isaacs experimented with stressed skin plywood cabin or 'microhouse' designs that employed standardized modular panel and spar elements connected by small block joints or alloy angles, the edge seams sealed with aluminum tape. Some of the more LEM-spacecraft-like designs Isaacs employed have been revived recently with new geometry in work by N55 ( Conventional wood frame systems for housing have evolved into a kind of stressed skin system based on the reliance on external cladding (and to a lesser extent internal cladding) for structural integrity. These, however, have only recently begun being used in any modular way on the level of panel module systems using factory produced panels or OSB based SIPs. No standardized systems have developed for this in the conventional housing industry in the western world, but one potential standardized system does exist, however, in the form of the Volkshaus system developed in Japan by the design group Landship ( and marketed commercially by several companies. ( An evolution in some ways of the traditional Japanese 'ken' system, Volkshaus uses steel plate joined post and beam framing with prefabricated stressed skin composite wall, floor, and roofing panels. In spite of its heritage, the resulting sophisticated homes have more in common with Scandinavian contemporary housing in their appearance. The system is potentially feasible in both a DIY and factory setting, though currently its use is dominated by several companies in Japan. Its developers have produced books and even design software for builders, but only in Japanese.

T-Slot Aluminum Profile Framing

The premier modular building system today, is based on the use of extruded aluminum alloy profiles that feature integral T-shaped channels to which bolt connectors are attached to link them into simple post and beam frame structures to which can be attached an endless assortment of modular fittings and equipment. Fittings allow for surface-mount attachment as well as integral of attachment based on fitting mounted inside the ends of profiles. Profiles also often feature multiple hollow interior channels both for reinforcement and to serve as the basis pneumatic and hydraulic power distribution or can serve as cable runs. Truss systems have also been made with these, based on open and closed web trusses assembled as composites of several profiles and connecting parts. In a few cases space frames have been produced. Appearing sometime in the 20th century, T-Slot was introduced in the late 1960s or early 1970s for the construction of custom industrial automation systems, offering a powerful solution for the high cost for the development and adaptation of automated systems. It quickly became ubiquitous for laboratory equipment and prototype robotics and eventually supplanted Box Beam as the most popular building system among eco-technology experimenters. With very high strength to weight performance and a growing variety of profile shapes, new alternative materials such as carbon fiber, FRP, and wood, and a huge worldwide catalog of accessory parts, today its list of uses are endless and with the recent introduction of large scale profiles it has begun being used for housing and plug-in architecture systems based on post and beam structures. With most new digital machine tools commonly being prototyped using T-Slot, the variety of sources very numerous, and the variety of the off-the-shelf parts very high, T-Slot represents one of the best choices for maker projects. However, it remains somewhat costly due to manufacturer pricing focused on a typically spendthrift technical/industrial business market. Curiously, as ubiquitous as it is, T-Slot remains little known at the DIY enthusiast level, largely due to a lack of any media about its use. Similarly, most manufacturers of T-Slot products are so culturally focused on the industrial market they are largely oblivious to the huge variety of other uses their own products have actually been put to.

Need a picture of the T slot here.--Dennis 18:23, 12 March 2009 (UTC)

MK Profiles - Bosch Profiles - 80:20 - Tslots - Jeriko House - iT House - Tomahouses -

Non-Modular Building Systems:

Traditional Carpentry

Supported by the vast majority of off-the-shelf tools and contemporary DIY literature, traditional wood carpentry remains the most common set of techniques used for independent manufacture in the western world. However, it is also entirely limited to wood and engineered wood materials, severely limiting the range of practical artifacts it is capable of producing. Though decorative techniques can be extremely elaborate, wooden assemblies are commonly based on fitted box panel and box frame structures using tab, biscuit, mortice and tendon, dovetail, small nail and screw, small metal fitting, glue, and slot/key joinery at the small scale and post and beam, stressed skin, and 'light wood' or 'platform' framing using mortice and tendon, nail, and bolt joiner at the large scale. More sophisticated techniques include the use of space frames and formed/bent wood and laminates. Without the benefits of modularity, traditional carpentry tends to demand high skill levels and labor to compete in quality with factory products and can be wasteful of an increasingly unsustainable resource, particularly at large scales. Sustainability has improved to a small degree with the increased use of engineered lumber materials using formerly waste material, though sometimes at the compromise of latent toxicity from chemicals. The introduction of materials like wheatboard and new bamboo and other more renewable lumber alternatives offers some hope for improving this further, though most of these new materials remain beyond the means of small scale production and unavailable from typical lumber sources.

Welded Profile Spaceframe Systems

Welded profile space frame systems employ tubular alloy profiles in typically round or square profile shapes as the basis of a structure assembled with welded joints. They usually employ either rectilinear box frames -typical of housing uses and machine structures/enclosures, or triangulated trusses but can be elaborated into complex free-form shapes through the custom-bending of frame members, as demonstrated by the space frame chassis of some vehicles. Though not modular in themselves due to their welded connections and often non-regular topology, when standardized over a whole form they can serve very well as the foundation for modular retrofit components, as also well demonstrated by their vehicle applications. Indeed, this is the most-likely basis of the design and production of larger open source artifacts such as automobiles, given that the technology offers superior performance characteristics to the more conventional pressed steel welded unibody construction of factory-produced automobiles (hence its common use in race cars and military vehicles) while still being suited to the scale of production of a very small machine shop. Welded profile space frame structures based on structural steel profiles have also been a mainstay for housing applications among Modernist architects and have proven very effective. Such housing has often seen an attempt by designers to modularize their structures through standardized component dimensions and the use of large modular sectional frames that are partly prefabricated and partly site assembled.

==Composite Shells==Composites shells are rigid shell structures which are made of a combination of resins and fiber reinforcement, commonly in the forms of fiberglass, polyester, and carbon fiber. Though employed in such advanced applications as aircraft structures, the basic techniques used may have their origins in the simple techniques of papier-mache; the method of making sculptures from layers of glue/starch-soaked paper strips. Several techniques are common; formed, foam-core, free-form, and wound. Formed composite shells are made by creating removable forms, usually of plywood or corrugated cardboard, in an either concave or convex shape to which resin-soaked mats or tape are applied in multiple layers to build up a rigid shell finished in a smooth coating of resin. Small structures are usually self-rigid but larger more complex shapes can often be reinforced by bonding in flat or tubular spars of pre-made composite to create a monocoque or stressed skin structure. Large structures are sometimes produced in sections which are mechanically assembled along facing edge spars before being 'knit' together to seal their seams. This allows for the build-up of large structures by using assemblages of thin unfinished sectional shells as permanent forms for thicker shells built-up on top of them. Foam core shells are made by carving blocks of polyurethane or polystyrene foam into the desired shape then applying the resin-soaked fiber layers leaving the foam permanently in place. This technique is commonly employed in the creation of surf boards and pontoon hulls. The technique allows for intricate shapes based on the density of foam used but is best suited to structures that are intended to be monolithic in character, as surf boards are. Double-sided finished shell structures are possible based on using hollow foam structures sculpted to shape on both exterior and interior surfaces. Free-form shells are based on the use of wire mesh as a sacrificial form to construct a desired shape which is then covered in layers of resin-soaked fiber. This technique allows for very intricately detailed sculptural forms over very large areas. Wound shells are made by mounting a form structure on a large axial spindle which allows it to be rotated whole as fiber is applied as a continuous string or tape in a continuous semi-automated process. Rigs are sometimes designed to allow windings in multiple directions for each layer or wound layers may alternate with matted layers. This most sophisticated composite shell technique is used almost exclusively by the aerospace industry to make composite carbon fiber aircraft structures and fuel tanks but has also been used for the creation of super-pressure pneumatic tanks used for compressed air powered vehicles and energy storage systems.

Monocoque and Stressed Skin Structures - Typically associated with ships and aircraft, this class of structures is also common to structures using composite shell construction and and is characterized by the use of skin materials tensioned by their own stiffness and/or the use of an internal framework. In a stressed skin system, or semi-monocoque, the skin material may have no stiffness and rely entirely on a frame structure combining spars with perpendicular stringers or triangulated struts. This internal frame is intended to translate internal and external loads into tension on the skin material. In a true monocoque the stiffness of the skin material alone, usually employing rounded shapes, is relied on for strength but may be supplemented by spars, whose chief job is to communicate internal loads to the exterior shell without concentrating them on any one skin point. Favored for their strength-to-weight performance, these structures can be some of the most complex to build combining many techniques and using many different materials. Key among the engineering challenges is the means to interface skin materials of limited dimensions. Limited by the practical dimensions of lumber, early ships employed complex mortice and tendon system to join relatively thin planks into large area shells that behaved as though they were monolithic. Of course, they were never entirely waterproof. Later techniques based on lamination of wood, the gluing of fabrics, and riveting and welding of alloys emerged. Today, continuous welding of alloys and laminate polymer/fiber composites are common. True monocoque structures represent the highest challenge for casual makers owing to the very large skill sets and precision they require. Stressed skin systems are much less challenging in this respect and can be produced with fairly simple materials.

Pressed Alloy Shell Structures - A derivative of monocoque structures, this class of structures is typified by the humble soup can and the welded steel unibody construction as commonly employed in automobile manufacture. Essentially, curved or corrugated shapes are pressed out of flat sheet alloy stock and roll-seam-joined or welded together into a self-rigid structure. Rigidity is dependent largely on the curving forms employed in the component shapes, but simple sharp-edged forms are possible where flat surface areas are minimal. Ubiquitous in the production of many Industrial Age products prior to the introduction of plastics, the technology remains common for automobiles and large appliances and is often exploited by manufacturers as a means to control competition by industry standardization of production equipment of extreme scale and capital overhead. This generally imposes a great barrier to Maker use of this form of structure except at scale suited to parts fabrication by very small hydraulic presses or hammer-forming of pieces by hand.

Cast/Milled Block/Chassis Structures - Structures of this class are based on the use of a block or frame chassis structure which is cast whole or milled from a single or small set of blocks and used as the foundation for attachment of other components to build-up an overall structure. Casting and milling are, of course, fabrication techniques, not building methods, but when a cast or milled structured is used as the foundation of an assemblage of parts, it becomes a building system, sometimes suited to modularization. As with many other non-modular building methods, this type of structures has generally been very limited in its potential use by Makers owing to the large scales and high skill overhead of the base fabrication methods needed for its parts. But at small scales one can function within the limits of digital CNC which makes this a more practical option. Commonly based on alloys, this type of structure can employ any material that is millable or castable and can support the attachment of components by bolts, welding, or adhesives.

Masonry Structures - This class of structures falls into three basic categories; monolithic structures usually relying on bi-state plastic materials like concretes relying on formwork to control form during state transition of the material, stacked or rubble structures which rely on found materials like stones with human skill relied on to control form through selection, and block systems which rely on the regular geometry of prefabricated blocks to control form. Many forms of hybridization exist between these three basic categories as well as the use of conventional carpentry. Originating with the use of hand-formed clay/mud structures, this represents one of the oldest of all known building technologies, with a legacy suggested at over 10,000 years old and strongly associated with the development of the related technologies of pottery fabrication and ceramics. However, it is also a technology that has long resisted improvement of its basic limitation; high labor overhead. It is also a technology generally limited to architectural applications, though in some cases can be employed in the creation of furniture, sculpture, low-tech appliances like wood stoves, and some stationary machines like kilns, furnaces, stationary engines and pumps, and the like. For most of history masonry construction has been dominated by the materials of clay-bearing earth and stone with some use of primitive geopolymers and fired bricks in Roman times. With industrialization came expanded use of fired bricks and the emergence of portland cement based concretes but earth still dominated in much of the world. In modern times fired brick has been largely eliminated as economically impractical and concrete and prefabricated concrete block have been dominant but accompanied by a great diversity of other technologies and materials including extruded clay panels and blocks, gypsum block and plank, engineered stone, glass block, advanced geopolymers, and in-situ machine extruded masonry. Modular slip-formed and factory-precast concrete remain the current leaders in low-labor technology but may soon find competition from in-situ extrusion technologies offering the prospects of 'fabbing' masonry structures by computer control. Since the latter part of the 20th century earthen construction has seen a revival of use in developed countries based on its environmental characteristics, yet has seen little improvement in labor overhead beyond the use of hydraulically compressed earth block. earth bag/superadobe, and slip-formed cast earth techniques.

Ferro-cement - Most commonly employed in the creation of concrete sculptures and free-form organic architecture, ferro-cement was originally invented in the early 20th century as a means to make yacht hulls from cement. The basic technique involves the use of a wire mesh or mesh lathing (as used in plasterwork) as foundation for an application of hand-applied or sprayed concrete, known commonly as 'shotcrete' because it's 'shot' from a hose under pressure using a peristaltic concrete pump or by compressed air using a plaster spraying device known as a tirolessa. The technique produces very thin but strong cement shell structures and, though sometimes used with tension frames to create a kind of tilt-up masonry panel, it is most commonly used to create domes, spheres, hypoid, conic shells shapes or large flowing sculptural shapes based on the use of free-form wire mesh, sometimes employing double-shell structures with a core of pumicecrete or polymer foam as insulation. Recently, manufacturers have introduced prefabricated ferro-cement foundation panels combining wire mesh over and through a polymer foam core which can be used flat or cut and bent to some degree into more fluid shapes. (see Ferro-cement is the mainstay of the Free-Form Organic school of architecture, whose buildings feature elaborate complexes of non-euclidean shapes with formed-in-place furnishings and which is often regarded as the closest current analogy to architecture likely to result with the advent of advanced nanotechnology. - Flying Concrete - Vetsch Architecture -

Pneumatic Structures - This class of structure is a derivative of stressed skin or tension structures based on non-rigid material that rely on internal pressure to provide them with rigidity. They are typically formed of welded/glued panels of polymer or polymer-composite materials fashioned so as to hold a relatively high internal pressure. Commonly seen in pool toys and inflatable novelty furniture, this technology is suited to very serious tasks such as the construction of airships, winged aircraft, and very large span building enclosures. With new membrane materials such as mylar, kevlar, tefzel, and in the future nanomembranes extremely high permanent internal pressures are now possible, allowing this fairly simple technology to produce very strong structures as rigid and solid as any more conventional material. Though still experimental, such materials have been used as wall and window panels in buildings and for struts in space frame structures.

Tension Structures - Similar to stressed skin systems, tension structures are typified by tensioning of a non-rigid material by perimeter edge anchoring to various forms of internal or external framework, anchor points, or piers. Though most commonly used as the basis of light enclosures -sometimes of enormous areas- they can also be used as the basis of tensegrity structures like bicycle wheels and geodesic tents and used as the basis of various machines and hybrid transforming structures such as Hoberman structures. One of the few forms of non-modular structures that are extremely well suited to Maker exploration.

Xanadome large area tefzel structures - Birdair large area tension structures based on PTFE - Shelter Systems tend domes based on GripClip skin attachment -

==Textile Structures==Commonly seen in the creation of clothing, furniture upholstery, toys, and the like this class of structure has evolved to include a complex assortment of hybrids where sewn and welded textiles are rigidized through internal filler material and frameworks that sometimes border on tension structure or stressed skin systems. Most exploration of this form of structure has been limited to furniture and toy design and 'soft sculpture' art but with the advent of sophisticated variable density structural foam polymers many new possibilities are emerging and we may soon see this form of structure commonly used in a growing variety of artifacts including such applications as personal housing on orbit, relief shelters, and vehicle bodies.


Chemical: Inorganic: Organic: Biochemical: Mechanical:







Computers/Networking/Telecommunications: Software:

Photonics/Optics: Fiber Optics: Lasers:

Energy: Combustion Engine Systems: Rankin Cycle Systems: Solar-Dynamic: Photovolatic: Heliostat Lighting Systems: Wind: Hydro: Marine: Geothermal: Biofuels: Cogeneration: Energy Storage/Transport: Battery: Redox: Hydrogen: Hydrides:

Biotechnology: Selective Breeding/Culturing: Cell/Tissue Culturing: Industrial Bioreactors:

Waste/Recycling: Waste To Feedstock Reduction: Design For Reuse: Upcycling: Waste To Energy Conversion:

Nanotechnology: Chemosynthesis: Protein Systems: Statistical Assembly/Sequencers/Mixer Plants: Mechanosynthesis: Desktop ATM Systems/NanoLathes: Biosynthesis:

Agricultural Techniques:



Container Farming:


Living Machine Systems: Air: Plant Air Purifiers: Water: Graywater Systems: Sewerage Systems: Natural Swimming Pools: Abatement Barges/Floats: CELSS (closed environment life support systems): Drip Irrigation: Flood/Drain: NFT: Aeroponics: Semi-Permeable Pressurized Grow-Structures: Curtain Systems: Raft/Trough Systems: Rotating/Moving Frame Systems:

Cold-Bed Farming:


Terra Preta:


Mono-Species: Pen: Tank: Containerized: Frame:


Deep Water Fed Poly-Species:

Free-Range Fish Farming:


Trough: Tank: Solar Panel: Flex Tube or Curtain:

Animal Husbandry:

Other Open Source Projects:

SourceForge - Linux OS - Access Grid open teleconferencing - DevShed open web tutorials - Gridbeamers - Hexayurt Project - Open Source Ecology - OSKOMAK - OScar - Openmoko - Arduino - Global Peace Containers - Bamboo Bike -

General Resources:


  1. Bolo`Bolo - P.M.
  2. Cohousing - Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett
  3. How to Survive Without a Salary: Learning How to Live the Conserver Lifestyle - Charles Long
  4. The Velvet Monkeywrench - John Muir and Peter Aschwanden
  5. How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive - Muir, Gregg, and Aschwanden
  6. The Septic System Owner's Manual - Kahn, Allen, Jones, and Aschwanden
  7. How To Make Your Own Living Structures - Ken Isaacs
  8. The Box Beam Sourcebook - Richard Jergensen
  9. Nomadic Furniture 1 & 2 - Hennessey and Papanek
  10. High-Tech: The Industrial Style and Source Book For the Home - Joan Kron and Suzanne Slesin
  11. Original Whole Earth Catalog, Special 30th Anniversary Issue - Peter Warshall and Stewart Brand
  12. Foxfire 1, 2, and 3 - Eliot Wigginton
  13. The Findhorn Garden - The Findhorn Community and William Irwin Thompson
  14. Permaculture One and Two - Bill Mollison , David Holmgren
  15. Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability - David Holmgren
  16. The Owner-Built Home - Ken Kern
  17. The Timeless Way of Building - Christopher Alexander
  18. Ceramic Houses and Earth Architecture: How to Build Your Own - Nader Khalili
  19. Emergency Sandbag Shelter - Nader Khalili
  20. Building With Earth - Paulina Wojciechowska
  21. Earth Construction Handbook: The Building Material Earth in Modern Architecture - Gernot Minke
  22. Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter - Lloyd Kahn
  23. Earth Building and the Cob Revival: A Reader - The Cob Cottage Company
  24. The Cob Builders Handbook - Becky Bee
  25. The Craft of Modular Post & Beam: Building log and timber homes affordably - James Mitchell
  26. Low-Cost Pole Building Construction - Ralph Wolfe
  27. Measure and Construction of the Japanese House - Heino Engel
  28. Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings - Edward S. Morse
  29. Independent Builder: Designing & Building a House Your Own Way (Real Goods Independent Living Books) - Sam Clark
  30. Growing Clean Water : Nature's Solution to Water Pollution - John D. Wolverton and B. C. Wolverton
  31. How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office - B. C. Wolverton
  32. Application of vascular aquatic plants for pollution removal, energy and food production in a biological system

(NASA technical memorandum) - B. C Wolverton

  1. Aquatic plant/microbial filters for treating septic tank effluent - B. C Wolverton
  2. Aquatic plants for ph adjustment and removal of toxic chemicals and dissolved minerals from water supplies - B. C Wolverton
  3. Envisioning Information - Edward R. Tufte
  4. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 2nd edition - Edward R. Tufte
  5. Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative - Edward R. Tufte
  6. Structure in Nature is a Strategy for Design - Peter Pearce
  7. Fab: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop--from Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication - Neil Gershenfeld
  8. Shaping Things - Bruce Sterling
  9. Design Like You Give a Damn - Architecture for Humanity, Kate Stohr, and Cameron Sinclair
  10. Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century - Alex Steffen, Al Gore, and Stephan Sagmeister


  1. Make -
  2. Ready Made -
  3. Desktop Engineering -
  4. NASA Tech Briefs -
  5. Mother Earth News -
  6. Robot Magazine -

Web Sites:


  1. Fab Prefab -
  2. BldBlog -
  3. Apartment Therapy -
  4. Inhabitat -
  5. Dezeen -
  6. -
  7. NotCot -
  8. Design Zen -
  9. MocoLoco -
  10. Treehugger -
  11. Metaefficient -
  12. Eco-Geek -
  13. Life @ Arcsanti -
  14. -
  15. Technovelgy -


  1. Greenpages -
  2. Foresight Institute -
  3. MIT Center for Bits and Atoms -
  4. Biomimicry Institute -
  5. DaVinci Institute -
  6. Institut für Baubiologie + Oekologie Neubeuern (IBN) -
  7. Dave Gingery Publishing (legendary Gingery Machines) -
  8. Lindsay Technical Books (legendary DIY tech publications) -
  9. Small Parts (popular inventors/researcher's supply) -
  10. American Science & Surplus (legendary tech surplus store) -
  11. GripClips -
  12. Wood Central woodworker's on-line portal -
  13. Garden of Delights exotic fruit plants supply -

Eric Hunting