OpenStructures Is A Modular Building System For The RepRap Age

Modular construction toys like LEGO and Meccano are great for prototyping, but they aren’t so great for large builds. OpenStructures promises to be a modular building system for projects large and small.

A series of images showing the disassembly of a short, red cabinet and its reassembly as a tall, white cabinet. The shelves are reused between both objects since they both are part of the OS Grid.

Originally conceived in 2007 by [Thomas Lommée], OpenStructures is a modern, more robust reinterpretation of Grid Beam, which was itself a reinterpretation of the earlier Living Structures. By using a common standard (PDF), parts can be reused project after project as they would with LEGO, meaning you can spend more time building and less time cutting or figuring out joints. OpenStructures parts need connection points, part diameters, or part dimensions at multiples of 20 mm to be compatible. To fulfill the spirit of the project, parts should be designed for disassembly, use recyclable materials when possible, and be Open Source.

The system seems like a great starting point for prototyping furniture or other large builds more quickly than building everything on a case-by-case basis. By including diameters for round objects as well as square and rectangular profiles, OpenStructures is a more flexible (and aesthetically pleasing?) option than Grid Beam.

A couple more options for furniture-scale modular construction are these big LEGO bricks or copper pipe.

(via Low Tech Magazine)

BeamCNC: Computer-Controlled Construction System Mill

Need to make something quick and dirty out of wooden beams, and want to use elements you know will work together? BeamCNC is a mobile assembly of stepper-controlled rollers and a router that sucks a 2×2 through it and drills the holes in pre-programmed intervals. Currently being developed as part of an Indiegogo campaign currently in preview, its creator [Vladislav Lunachev] has declared it open source hardware. It’s essentially a CNC mill that makes Grid Beam, a classic DIY building set that resembles Meccano, Erector, and other classic sets, only made full-scale for larger projects. While BeamCNC is not affiliated with Grid Beam, it takes the same general idea and automates it.

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A Modular Halloween With Grid Beam

gridbeam

The fantastic Creatrope blog has a great article on quickly assembling animatronic Halloween gags using salvaged electric motors, pvc pipe, and “grid beam” construction.

Grid beam is a prototyping and building medium that’s like a giant hippie Erector set. You can’t buy grid beam, but with a drill press, a jig, and some square stock you can create your own unlimited supply. It’s ideal for “sketching” and temporary constructions like these Halloween props. After use, everything can be dismantled, stored flat, and later reused for the next [Herbie Hancock] music video creative project. Looks like fun!

The article wraps up with some valuable pointers on getting started with grid beam and where to acquire parts.