Making A Gorgeously-Twisty Sculpture, Using Only Flat Pieces

Closeup of unique pieces that make up the final scuplture.

The sculpture shown here is called Puzzle Cell Complex and was created by [Nervous System] as an art piece intended to be collaboratively constructed by conference attendees. The sculpture consists of sixty-nine unique flat panel pieces, each made from wood, which are then connected together without the need for tools by using plastic rivets. Everything fits into a suitcase and assembly documentation is a single page of simple instructions. The result is the wonderfully-curved gyroid pattern you see here.

The sculpture has numerous layers of design, not the least of which was determining how to make such an organically-curved shape using only flat panels. The five-foot assembled sculpture has a compelling shape, which results from the sixty-nine individual panels and how they fit together. These individual panel shapes have each been designed using a technique called variational surface cutting to minimize distortion, resulting in their meandering, puzzle-piece-like outlines. Each panel also has its own unique pattern of cutouts within itself, which makes the panels lighter and easier to bend without sacrificing strength. The short video embedded below shows the finished sculpture in all its glory.

Continue reading “Making A Gorgeously-Twisty Sculpture, Using Only Flat Pieces”

Copper Coil Lamp Built With 3D Printed Tools

3D printing is a great way to create complex geometric forms. However, it can be very slow, and parts may lack strength compared to other alternatives. There are other ways to take advantage of this technology however, as shown in the build of this tidy voronoi lamp. 

The lamp is so-called for its voronoi-patterned base, named after the mathematical concept. 3D printing is used to create the base, which would be very difficult to create with traditional subtractive machining methods. A copper coil is then used to give the lamp some height, as well as act as protection for the filament bulb. Here, 3D printing helps out in a different way, being used to create a jig to allow the copper to be quickly wound into an accurate coil shape. The coil also serves to act as a conduit for the mains wiring, giving the lamp a neat finished appearance.

The project goes to show that even if 3D printing is appropriate to produce your final parts, it may be of help to create useful jigs or tools to get the job done. We’ve even seen similar applications before in the microcontroller space!

The Trompe-l’œil Menorah

Hanukkah decorations have been up in stores since before Halloween, and that means it’s time for electronic Menorahs with blinking LEDs, controllers, and if you’re really good, a real-time clock with support for the Jewish calendar. [Windell] over at Evil Mad Scientist just outdid himself with the Mega Menorah 9000. It’s a flat PCB with nine LEDs, but it uses stippling and a trompe-l’œil effect to make it appear three-dimensional.

Making a 2D object look three-dimensional isn’t that hard – you just need the right shading. A few years ago, [Evil Mad Scientist] created StippleGen, a library to turn images into something that can be easily reproduced with the EggBot CNC plotter. It’s actually quite impressive; there are Voronoi diagrams and travelling salesmen problems, all to draw on eggs. The library can be used for much more, like properly shading a PCB so that it looks three-dimensional.

The Mega Menorah 9000 is surprisingly large, at about 7.5″ wide. It’s powered by an ATtiny85 loaded up with the Adafruit Trinket firmware, making it a truly USB enabled Menorah. While it may just be a soldering kit, it is a fantastic looking PCB, something we’d like to see some more examples of in the future.