ECR Labs and Machine Histories were tasked with creating a CAD plugin that would allow for fast interactive
form development and output machining files for production at
in-house state of the art manufacturing facility. We worked with Neal Feay on digital design strategies
and iterated to create a mesh topology that was symmetrical, equilateralized and relaxed to fit with
not just their desired aesthetics but also worked best for CNC machining. A major challenge encountered
was minimizing the complexity of the fabrication and reducing the number of unique parts.
The final form utilized over 700 aluminum panels which were machined and assembled to create the installation. Unique brackets were cut at distinct angles to connect each facet.
After a series of initial design revisions a direction on overall form was finalized. While the general
shape was acceptable a strategy for controlling the mesh topology and triangulation still needed
to be developed. Using physics based simulations we underwent an iterative process to create consistency
in the mesh topology. This spring based methodology allowed us to planarize individual components
all while pulling vertices back to the original digital form. Most importantly, this system allowed
for quick iteration and design feedback while maintaining the look of the final design which was
vital for the development process.
The result was roughly 700 panel pieces, all of which were dimensionally unique and had faces connecting at different angles. To make the fabrication more manageable we applied constraints to all edges to equalize the lengths and used hinge constraints to standardize the angles between faces. This finalized interactive system allowed the number of different panel types to decrease massively and brought the number of unique brackets down from thousands of variants to hundreds.