Saturday 26 October 2013

Skeleton Crew

Meet Bones. 

Bones is a giant cardboard Lego skeleton.  He is a family project created over a few rainy weekends in preparation for Halloween.  

What is the relevance to this blog, which (tries to) focus on design, materials and innovation?  There are a number of reasons which I believe are worth noting:

Intrructables is a website which brings craft and hobby projects to a social media interface.  Many of the projects are very clever, tinkering and hacking with technology which is becoming more and more available to everyone.  Technology progressively lowers the bar for entry.  This little project is simple to construct but still uses a specialised approach to achieve its goals.  The Mega Lego Skeleton project by ZombieGorilla uses Blender to model with and UV unwrapping to transfer all the surfaces to cutting patterns.  

The original instructions include A3 sheets which produce a cardboard skeleton about 3 feet high.  We doubled the size of the templates, and the size of the skeleton.  These sheets were for the chest section.  In total there were approximately 150 steets.
It has been raining - a lot.

Blender, I believe, is a resource which needs to be recognised and used more in Architecture.  It is an open source and free to use software package which can hold up against heavy-weight modeling, rendering and animation packages such as 3D Studio.  It is incredibly versatile and does not produce a default visual graphic.  The fact that so many Architectural practices rely on SketchUp must be to the credit of Google's advertising.

Assembling the parts involved a lot of strips of masking tape.  

UV mapping:
UV unwrapping the model to create cutting patterns means that the structure can be faithfully recreated from sheets of material, at any scale.  The sections fit very accurately and neatly.

The relevance to architecture is that:
  • Complicated 3D geometries can be replicated in model form with this process and,
  • CAD and BIM models can produce cutting patterns to achieve complicated geometric building structures directly, where the finished product will be produced from sheet materials, such as zinc or other sheet metals.  Sheet metals can have braised, welded or folded at junctions, as required and arranged with specialist fabricators.
It's another example of how 3D models can be exported directly to manufacturing processes.

Leg components before painting.  Several types of cardboard was used but the best and most forgiving, I found, was the card used as packing material for boxes etc.  Its a great resource to play with and too good just to go to recycling.

Double-curved geometries:
This project demonstrates how double-curved geometries are still difficult to create in the real world.  This project uses 16 segments for each cylindrical section, which scale neatly to fit.  Double curves in this instance are created from tapering sections of cylinders.  Although CAD and modeling software likes to create complicated geometries, this project exposes the illusion that they are just planes and lines with filters and modifiers applied.

Achieving double curved geometries with building materials is a subject which I will post on shortly.

The main head section achieves a 'double curve geometry' with tapering sections, accurately set out by the UV unwrapping process. 

Chest and spine sections added.

Gerry Anderson famously said that he created puppets for his iconic production Thunderbirds, because he couldn't afford actors at the time.  You might say we've taken the same approach with staff for DesignBox.  We'll put Bones on answering phones and chasing invoices and see how we get on.  

Happy Halloween 13! :)

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