Notes for beta testing Aluminum Bench

This week we introduced the second round of beta testing and began rolling it out to those who signed up for the beta. If you haven’t signed up, feel free to signup and we’ll add you to the testing group when a slot becomes available.

Feedback

We’re interested in getting any feedback you have after using the app. Please send any difficulties or bugs that you discover to tech@shopfloorapp.com, and if possible, please include what browser and version, and what system and operating system you’re running.

Known Bugs

As we introduce more users to the beta for the Aluminum Bench app, we’d like to share a few known issues and bugs in beta version 0.9.1:

  • It doesn’t work on Internet Explorer. Currently, IE isn’t compatible with WebGL, and it may be some time before we come up with a good solution.
  • Safari has a surface rendering issue — makes the bench appear translucent. This will be fixed by the next release of Unity in September.
  • Some users have experienced long load times, especially on the first use. With a moderate internet connection, the longest it should take to load the first time is 15 seconds or so. If nothing happens after 20 seconds, try a hard reload:
    • Mac: CMD + SHIFT + R
    • PC: CTRL + SHIFT + R
    • Universal: Shift+Click on the “Reload” button in your browser
  • Chrome users experience a Unity error popup when navigating away from the bench app or refreshing the page in Chrome. This should be fixed by mid-August.
Screenshot of the Aluminum Bench app in Safari for Mac, which currently is failing to render the bench surface.
Screenshot of the Aluminum Bench app in Safari for Mac, which currently is failing to render the bench surface.

How to Best Submit Feedback & Bugs:

Please send feedback and report new bugs to tech@shopfloorapp.com. We recommend adding some information about your computer’s operating system and what browser you’re using, especially when you’re encountering a bug we haven’t seen before.

When adding a system profile, here is an example of a full system profile, so that we can better identify what aspect of your system is creating the bug. If you experience the same problem in multiple browsers, please add the information for each browser.

System:
OS X 10.10.3
2.7 GHz Intel Core i7
16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
Nvidia GeForce GT 650M 1024 MB

Safari:
Version 8.0.5 (10600.5.17)

Firefox:
38.0.5

Chrome:
Version 43.0.2357.134 (64-bit)

Providing this information is optional, but highly useful for our debugging team at ShopFloor. It’s also pretty easy to look up. To see what browser version you’re using, simply go to the about section in the file bar, or just go to Whatbrowser.org. To see what system you’re using, you can just go to WhatsmyOS.com, which gives you a brief version and also tells you how to get a more in-depth system profile.

More than anything, we’re simply excited to see the wondrous things you build in the app! Please share your designs at @shopfloorapp on Twitter and our Facebook page.

Changes to ShopFloor

A few months ago, Google Chrome announced that it would no longer support the Unity player plugin which powers the 3D environment for our apps. We have been preparing for this shift by rewriting the codebase, and it just so happens that Aluminum Bench app will be the first tool to run on the new WebGL framework.

We’ve opened a beta for the new app, which now runs on a plugin-less WebGL Framework. After the Aluminum Bench beta period, we plan to move our other apps for ImageWall and CloudWall to the same WebGL framework, which means you can get started faster with no third-party plugins and (hopefully) a better user experience on all browsers.

Until Then?

For the time being, Firefox is our favorite browser for running ShopFloor. If you love using Google Chrome, you can currently re-enable Unity Web Player support by pasting this into your address bar for Google Chrome:

chrome://flags/#enable-npapi

This will take you directly to the correct Chrome setting, and then simply click to enable it and restart your browser. You may also need to clear your cache, or do a a hard reload (CTRL+SHIFT+R for PC’s, CMD+SHIFT+R for Macs).

Changing your flags isn’t a dangerous thing to do, it just enables NPAPI-support as it was before Chrome automatically upgraded you to version 42. Now the Unity Web Player should work just like before.

This workaround will only work until September when support is removed for good. The other major browsers will likely follow in Google Chrome’s footsteps, so we’re working around the clock to resolve these issues for our users, and are planning to have everything running better than ever by this Fall.

A Panel Discussion around the Aluminum Bench

Last month, Zahner unveiled the Aluminum Bench and accompanying app at Volume Gallery in Chicago. Present at the opening were its designer, Jonathan Olivares, its design-engineers and fabricators, Andrew Manto of ShopFloor and Paul Martin of A. Zahner Company.

In the video above, Ellen Hartwell Alderman of the Graham Foundation leads a discussion between the three innovative talents who realized the seating system generator: the designer of the Aluminum Bench, Jonathan Olivares; the Design Director at A. Zahner Company who was in charge of engineering and manufacturing the Aluminum Bench, Paul Martin; and the Design Engineer at ShopFloor who created the webapp for the Bench, Andrew Manto.

The app is set to launch to the public on August 17 2015, and is currently in a private beta test.

Sign up to for updates and access to the Aluminum Bench at ShopFloor.

ShopFloor announces beta for Aluminum Bench App

Aluminum Bench
Designed by Jonathan Olivares for ShopFloor®
Made by A. Zahner Company

For Immediate Release

CHICAGO—June 9, 2015 — ShopFloor is pleased to announce the launch of the Aluminum Bench designed by Jonathan Olivares at Volume Gallery, opening June 15th from 6-8 PM at 845 West Washington Blvd, Chicago, IL 60607. A panel discussion between Olivares, Zahner’s design director Paul Martin, and the Aluminum Bench app designer at ShopFloor, Andrew Manto will take place at Volume Gallery on June 16th from 11AM- 12PM.

The Aluminum Bench—designed by Olivares for Zahner’s web-based software platform ShopFloor—offers a new model for user-configured furniture. Developed over the past year by designers and engineers at ShopFloor alongside Olivares, potential buyers are able to design their own bench shape in a 3D environment and price in real-time. ShopFloor allows the user to determine the curvature, length and color of the bench for specific architectural contexts.

The bench is made using 100% aluminum parts: its legs are cast aluminum, its seat is made with an aluminum honeycomb core, and its profiled edge is made using an aluminum extrusion that Zahner originally designed for use on complex curvilinear building facades. Aluminum Bench comes in both black as well as white models and is coated with a UV and scratch resistant powder coating.

The ShopFloor software combines generative algorithms and 3D software, a combination that has advanced architectural manufacturing; resulting in a streamlined production of highly individualized shapes. The app allows for nearly unlimited customization within Olivares’s design, meaning that each resulting bench is one-of-a-kind. As users make adjustments to their designs, the ShopFloor app automatically determines the appropriate hardware, providing the structural and aesthetic placement of the benches legs.

The ShopFloor tool also allows buyers to work within a known budget by calculating price in real-time. Once the design is complete, the app automatically generates production-ready drawings for Zahner’s factory that can be manufactured, packaged, and shipped anywhere in the world.

The Aluminum Bench is presented at Volume Gallery alongside kiosks installed with the ShopFloor app and a series of drawings by Nathan Antolik, exploring an alphabet of possible shapes for the Aluminum Bench.

Jonathan Olivares was born in Boston in 1981 and graduated from Pratt Institute. In 2006 he established Jonathan Olivares Design Research, an office based in Los Angeles that works in the fields of industrial, spatial and communication design. His designs engage a legacy of form and technology, and ask to be used rather than observed. Recent projects include the exhibition Source Material, curated with Jasper Morrison and Marco Velardi (2014); the website A View on Natural Motion, for Nike (2014); the Olivares Aluminum Chair, for Knoll (2012); and the book A Taxonomy of Office Chairs, published by Phaidon Press (2011). Olivares’ work has been published internationally, granted several design awards—including Italy’s Compasso d’Oro—and supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts through two grants.

ShopFloor (SHOPFLOOR®) is a web-based software platform for making fully engineered and manufactured designs. Started in 2014, ShopFloor is developed by a growing team of designers and engineers within Zahner, and includes a small number of apps produced by this in-house team including CloudWall, ImageWall, and now Aluminum Bench. Each of the apps running on ShopFloor benefit from generative manufacturing, advanced user-customization, and instant pricing which is calculated based on the current price of the metals market with the cost of Zahner’s manufacturing. Download ShopFloor at www.shopfloorapp.com.

A. Zahner Company (ZAHNER®) is a fourth-generation, internationally acclaimed engineering and fabrication firm known for its specialized use of metal in art and architecture, most notably the complex building facades such as the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City, the Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago, de Young Museum in San Francisco. Founded 118 years ago and headquartered in Kansas City, Zahner employs nearly 200 craftsmen and engineers in its offices and two manufacturing facilities in Missouri and Texas. Zahner has 8 trademarked specialized systems, 7 trademarked surfaces, and is the recipient of over 40 awards for work in the fields of art and architecture. For more information, visit www.azahner.com.

Nathan Antolik is an artist based in Brooklyn, New York. His work can be seen at www.nathanantolik.com

Volume Gallery has a specific focus on American design, particularly emerging contemporary designers. Founded by design specialists Sam Vinz and Claire Warner, Volume Gallery releases editions, publications, and exhibits that showcase the work of American designers to regional, national, and international audiences. Volume Gallery asks critical questions of what it means to be an American designer in a culture that is rapidly becoming global in scale, while simultaneously examining the American experience. Volume Gallery is derived from a compulsion to provide a platform for emerging American designers to engage with an international audience.

To arrange interviews and other press inquiries, please contact Shayna McClelland:

Press Inquires
Shayna McClelland
C. 347.744.5991
E. shayna@mcclellandco.com

ShopFloor, Zahner to show at AIA 2015

This year ShopFloor™ will have a feature booth at the annual convention for the American Institute of Architects. The show will take place at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta, May 14-16, and will include a keynote address from former President Bill Clinton.

The ShopFloor™ booth will be #659 along the main aisle on the left side of the show, where designers can try out the tool and meet the Zahner engineers and developers behind the app. Follow ShopFloor on Twitter and Facebook for more updates about the upcoming show.

Building with the ShopFloor™ Platform

ShopFloor™ is an intuitive browser-based software platform that enables architects to design as well as manufacture complex facades, all from within a single tool. The most popular app for ShopFloor is currently ImageWall, a metal mosaic facade generator that gives users a simple interface to create perforated facades using their own uploaded imagery.

Using the ImageWall™ app, a designer can upload their own picture or sketch, and see it transformed as a perforated facade, instantly. The facade can then be manipulated, adjusting panel size, height, materials and more, all while keeping an eye on the instant pricing in the bottom corner.

ShopFloor's ImageWall app in Architectural Record, May 2015
ShopFloor’s ImageWall app in Architectural Record, May 2015
Detail of the ImageWall metal mosaic, showing how the metal is perforated through each seam, giving the image a unified appearance.
Detail of the metal mosaic made with ImageWall™ which shows how the metal is perforated through each seam, giving the surface a unified appearance.

Transparent pricing is a feature available on all of the ShopFloor apps, giving architects a radical insight into the cost of their designs. Transparent pricing provides designers with the security of knowing that the price they see, is the price they get.

Learn more and sign up for ShopFloor™, or come visit us at the AIA in Atlanta next week.

A Long Overdue Launch

A year and-a-half ago, a small team of Zahner engineers came together and released a platform of apps called ShopFloor. We recognized that among the thousands of custom designs that had gone through our engineers and fabricators, there was a common thread tying these projects together.  We set about developing ways to hone in on which projects had the best qualities, which variables were necessary, and what tweaks we could do to increase the designer’s power, from rapid visualization to increased transparency. We’re distilling all of these factors into a series of powerful apps for building facades, and more.

Today isn’t the launch of a new product, it’s the launch of a simple blog, a place to talk about the new things we’re working on, the hurdles we’ve faced, and where we’re going next.

Always building,

— The ShopFloor team at A. Zahner Company, Kansas City.