When Manufacturing Meets Art

When manufacturing and art come together, impressive creations are born. Have you ever thought about all the possibilities that a CNC machine can offer? Today we show you that Fagor Automation machines are not only for industry. They are also used, among other things, to create art. The project of Dom Riccobene and his family is one of this example.

Landscape pieces

Dom Riccobene and his family purchased a milling machine equipped with a Fagor Automation control for the purpose of designing prototype paving systems. With a little creativity and cinematic mastery, he was able to repurpose that milling machine to create beautiful landscape pieces to the delight of more than 240,000 followers worldwide.

Something great happens when an artist discovers the right tool. Imagine Yo-Yo Ma cradling a cello for the first time, Steven Spielberg hitting the record button on his first camera or Serena Williams picking up her first tennis racket. Maybe Dom Riccobene felt a bit like them when he first turned on his CNC milling machine.

Dom, who had dropped out of architecture and was working in the family business in New Mexico, spent most of his days designing and building paving systems. He and his father, Tom Riccobene, were hard at work on innovative carpet designs. As they busied themselves with prototype iterations, Dom wondered if a CNC machine could help speed things up.

They bought a small CNC machine and the work improved, but it was not enough. The hobby machine was not accurate enough, it was too small, and the tool marks it made were not acceptable for a production master. They tried outsourcing some of the work, but the results fell short. Dom started looking for other options.

Freedom Machine, a CNC milling machine

He discovered Diversified Machine Systems (DMS) and had a good feeling about their product. The Freedom Machine, a CNC milling machine equipped with a Fagor control system that could process a variety of materials, caught his eye. The price was competitive with other companies he had researched. He decided to go for it and the results were immediate.

“It was night and day”, he recalls. “The Fagor control was really easy to learn, after a few days it was second nature”.

Dom was excited about sharing his work with a wider audience, but since patents take up to two years to issue, he had to keep it secret. In the meantime, he started using his Freedom Machine for creative projects that he could share immediately.

By day he worked in the family business and at night he would lock himself in the workshop to create his own work. He used his film degree to capture the process in real time, making beautiful time-lapse videos of colorful landscapes created from solid blocks.

As he posted videos on Instagram, his work attracted a wider audience. He made a mountain valley out of layers of wood, which attracted thousands of new followers. He converted satellite data into 3D models, which he programmed into tool paths and then filmed.

High replica capacity and high accuracy

The Freedom Machine has become Dom’s tool of choice, as accessible as a table saw. He and his father have used it for everything from replacing shelves and stools in their store to developing new products. They are impressed by its ability to replicate, the precision with which it can make 2,000 identical molds.

“The Fagor controller plays a very important role in my content”, says Dom, “I really couldn’t shoot the videos the way I do without the control I have over the machine”.

Dom’s creative work blurs the boundaries of art and manufacturing. Some machine operators have commented that his work is not “practical”, while some artists criticize his use of the machine. However, Dom sees the value in mixing media and putting a machine in the service of artistic goals. He chooses his materials deliberately and puts great care into his compositions.

“For me, the most important thing is that it’s impossible to do it by hand”, he says. “I’m proud of what I do”.

Machines at the service of art

His followers agree. His videos reach an average of more than a quarter of a million people, and his audience is highly engaged. People find his videos mesmerizing, watching a landscape appear from a solid block.

Next year, Dom plans to launch a Kickstarter to start monetizing the landscapes he creates. In the meantime, he doesn’t feel rushed. He has a strong attachment to his work, and never wants it to become a chore. For him, the craft itself is what brings joy.

From Fagor we want to congratulate Dom Riccobene for the great work he does, and we are glad to know that all our efforts are useful beyond the machine tool industry. We are pleased to know that our machines are also at the service of art.

*All videos and photos shown are property of Dom Riccobene and we attribute all ownership to him and his business. Original article written by Diversified Machine Systems.