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Understanding mechanical explorations to create an abstract object.

 

Video of Mechanism

A 60 second video of a narrative that includes your mechanism in action paired with sound.



Objective: Create an inspiring mechanical sculpture. It is essential for design students to understand the basics of mechanisms and how things work. During this two week assignment, Karsten Goodwin and I explored, designed and built mechanisms. We started with an in-class workshop, during which we brainstormed simple mechanisms that fascinated us. From there, we took off and began to create our Dandelion-like mechanical sculpture. We were both fascinated with the motion of flying and we wanted our mechanism to celebrate that motion and emotion. This assignment incorporated hand making skills and also skills in Solid Works. We 3D printed and laser cut custom parts from the plates to the gears to the wings. Working as a team gave Karsten and I the opportunity to observe and problem solve and push each other to challenge the limits of our mechanism. 

Inspiration from Nature and Engineering 

Starting with an in‐class workshop, Karsten and I built some quick simple mechanisms and we began to collaborate and think together to figure out what fascinates us? What would we like to see in a moving sculptural celebration? We not only researched direct mechanisms, but we also looked to nature to find inspiration. We loved how dandelions functioned and their mechanism of flying pods. That led us to researching flying as a mechanism and we looked at children's flying toys. Our mechanical and organic inspiration prepared us well for the next step in the process, conceptualizing our sculpture. 


Ideation + Concept Sketches

After going through the research phase of the design process, we began to sketch, model and think tank our ideas. The idea behind our mechanism is to shoot paper wings into the air and let them fly away like pods leaving a dandelion hub. To make our mechanism more epic, we knew we needed many paper wings flying at once which led us to thinking about how we should go about building our ambitious design. We agreed that modularity would be key for our design. Once we figure out the design for our beautiful mechanical movement of flying, we could simply just repeat it. 


Prototype

Going off of the idea of modularity, as a team we decided to design a "master plate" that contained our mechanism and once we created that we could just mass produce. Since we planned to use the laser cutter, we knew to think of our design like flat pack furniture, 2D that leads to 3D. At the top left you will notice our first plate design had 3 mechanisms for shooting out the wings but we decided later in our process to pair down to only 2 shots per plate and just multiply our creation of plates to 6 (that is a total of 12 wings shooting at the same time).


Mass Production 

Using a Universal laser cutter, Karsten and I had to prepare accurate working Adobe Illustrator files that would convey our proper mechanism. This was challenging only because laser cutting is very much about figuring out what works best be it material, cutting settings or simply how to be efficient and effective with material and placement on the laser bed. 



Final Prototype

After going through the research phase of the design process, we began to sketch, model and think tank our ideas. The idea behind our mechanism is to shoot paper wings into the air and let them fly away like pods leaving a dandelion hub. To make our mechanism more epic, we knew we needed many paper wings flying at once which led us to thinking about how we should go about building our ambitious design. We agreed that modularity would be key for our design. Once we figure out the design for our beautiful mechanical movement of flying, we could simply just repeat it. We decided to design a "master plate" that contained our mechanism and once we created that we could just mass produce. Since we planned to use the laser cutter, we knew to think of our design like flat pack furniture, 2D that leads to 3D. At the top left you will notice our first plate design had 3 mechanisms for shooting out the wings but we decided later in our process to pair down to only 2 shots per plate and just multiply our creation of plates to 6 (that is a total of 12 wings shooting at the same time).



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