TROPHY WORK: MOVING FROM ART TO PART
Check out how this job shop was able to engineer and machine a complex, mobile sculpture for renowned designer Tom Shannon using advanced CADCAM software.
Gibbs and Associates (Moorpark, CA), a developer of software for programming CNC machine tools and a Cimatron company, recently announced that one of its customers, Blue Chip Engineering (Ramsey, MN), engineered and machined a mobile sculpture that was awarded as part of an international prize in June.
The sculpture was part of the prize given by the Buckminster Fuller Institute to the Living Building Challenge, the winner of its Buckminster Fuller Challenge, an annual international design competition that provides a $100,000 prize “to support the development and implementation of a strategy that has significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems.” The prize was announced and presented at the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium in New York City and accompanied by a trophy in the form of “OmniOculi,” a sculpture designed by artist Tom Shannon.
Blue Chip Engineering is a job shop whose primary business is providing machining services for the medical, aerospace, and other industries. The company has been helping Tom Shannon realize sculptural concepts since 2004. His sculptures are typically levitated or dynamic works of art that include scale versions of large sculptures. He also creates sculptures to accompany awards such as the annual TED Prize, awarded for humanitarian efforts, and the annual Michael J. Fox Award, given for scientific advancements in curing Parkinson’s disease.
Blue Chip founder Rick Denny says that the Buckminster Fuller Challenge award sculpture, which comprises two spheres, has been the most challenging of the Shannon sculptures. “The 8 in diameter upper sphere has a wall thickness of ¼ in, with 1,100 holes of 16 different sizes. It is designed to rotate or spin on a shaft attached through roller bearings to the supporting lower 4 in diameter sphere,” he says.
Shannon intended his sculpture to reflect several relationships to Fuller’s architectural concepts, both physically and optically, two such concepts being geodesic geometry and harmony with the environment. Also, to perform as “an interactive optical instrument,” he required the internal and external surfaces to be mirrors that would reflect the environment within and without. To create the relationship to geodesic polyhedrons, Shannon enlisted the geodesics expertise of scientific designer Joe Clinton, who developed a pattern of holes on a CAD system to achieve the effect.