Tangential Knife - Andy BraymanTangential Knife - Andy BraymanTangential Knife - Andy BraymanTangential Knife - Andy Brayman

Tangential Knife capitalizes on the potential of a custom developed toolhead for a 4 axis gantry-based CNC machine, which adds rotational motion (A axis) to the standard three axis (X,Y, and Z) of motion. This research opens the possibility of precisely cutting two-dimensional profiles out of slabs of clay. The material thickness of clay and, more importantly, the thickness of the cutting blade demands more degrees of control than is necessary in laser cutting where the cutting width of the laser is negligible. In this case, if the blade edge were not continuously reoriented to always “point” in the direction of travel, its flat face would push and distort the material rather than cutting cleanly through it.

By using wet clay slabs (often coated with a colored slip) and a straight knife, Tangential Knife is able to perform straight-through cuts as well as shallower surface cuts that operate more as visual texture. Adjusting the angle of the cutting tool also allows for beveled edges.

Cut geometry was parametrically created using Grasshopper in order to easily explore many iterations of 2D patterns that were designed to be bent into shallow 3D forms. Grasshopper was also used to determine A axis values (knife rotation) as well as write and simulate the G-code that drove all motion through Mach3 machine control software.

Machine Settings


Clay Properties