Sunday, 29 May 2011

In Production

The production process involves assembling elements from various sources, rapid prototyped, laser cut, off the shelf components and items commissioned from other craftsmen.

The picture below shows a tray of 3D printed models. The black material is a soluble support structure for overhanging areas. The whole tray is submerged in a solution for its removal.


All 59 models are laid out to check for errors and omissions. Note that there are eleven or thirteen of each model. The total number of each model defines whether the object appears to move forwards or backwards during the animation.


Each of the models is coded as are the stands and plate to which they are attached. Assembly involves matching the code of all three components. The digital animation provides an additional reference. The complete model is surprisingly sturdy.


The zoetrope has been developed in a modular fashion. There are many disciplines involved, including digital manufacturing, traditional wood work, finishing, metal work, model making and electronics. The modular approach allows several individuals to work on elements at the same time. It also aids construction and deconstruction for installation.

The stand, shown below in the craftsmen's workshop prior to finishing. The main box has large holes providing air circulation around the motor and power unit. Veneered panels slide into the routed slots on the legs.


The mechanism and internal components of the zoetrope were completely laser cut. One would assume that once cut assembly would be very simple, however, digital manufacturing techniques do have there draw backs.

There is a disconnect from the item during the design and assembly process that does not occur with traditional techniques. Traditional fabrication typically involves, marking, cutting and assembly. It's an organic process. In digital manufacturing marking and cutting are taken care of, but the items still need to be assembled. If a mistake happens, which is inevitable, then correction can be tricky. A simple example is a hole for attaching two items with a bolt. If this is positioned incorrectly then a new hole needs to be created. However, the marking process was taken care of on the computer possibly weeks or months before. Consequently there are no markings on the object from which to work.

The image below shows yours truly assembling the bottom light and centre shaft, embracing the idiosyncrasies of digital, then ultimately analogue manufacturing.


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