After discovering the wonders of Radiant Acrylic, my brain was sparked by all kinds of ideas for exploiting its qualities. While goofing around with a remnant from the SoundSpindle, I noticed that the dichroic effect was even more pronounced when the sheet was bent – the angle of incidence at which the light strikes being the main driver of the color shifts. I also liked the lightness and freedom of hanging forms from the ceiling, eliminating the grounding structure of a base and letting the piece “float” mid-air. If you follow my posts at all – or just have a quick look around – you’ll probably notice I have a bit of a “thing” for hexagons. Can’t really explain it other than to point out that, geometrically, you can’t get much prettier than the hex. So, I used a hexagon as my starting point and lofted a tapered solid from it, ending up with what is essentially a truncated hexagonal pyramid with curved sides, mirrored across the Z axis – like so:
Hexamabob starting shape
Each face of this form was then “unrolled” to yield a flat pattern that could then be cut out with the laser, plus some kind of supports would be needed to hold the whole thing together. I ended up using SolidWorks to handle this stuff, using the sheet metal tools to create the actual sheet metal parts as well as the acrylic. The really impressive thing about SolidWorks is its parametric nature: I can go back into the file and change just about any parameter – overall scale, ratio of width to height, etc. – and the whole design updates smoothly, including the flat patterns. Saves TONS of work if I ever decide to produce other sizes or need to make changes to the material thickness or fasteners. Below is a gallery of images that shows some of the design process.
I didn’t think to get any shots of the actual assembly process, but the last image in the gallery does show how the digital design becomes real-world parts. I’ll get some more in-progress shots on the next one.
I really like this one – its simplicity and the level of impact for the amount of material used is pretty spectacular. I’ve gotten lots of good feedback, and it’s prompted me to try something new as a result. Stay tuned!
Hexamabob – finished, on black