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Queen and Crawford – kite flying high with AM

little-shining-man-kite-1330079057   little-shining-man-kite-in-flight-1330079073

The Brief:
Queen and Crawford is a Design and Fabrication Workshop based in Birmingham, UK who deliver a wide range of projects locally and internationally.  They recently returned from installing the latest work of Heather & Ivan Morison in St. Hellier, Jersey; Little Shining Man is a sculpture that has the potential for flight.

The design of the structure is based around the tetra kites of Alexander Graham Bell, multiplied out into colliding cubes that take their form from the cubic formations of the mineral Pyrite.  A double wing module has been duplicated and arranged into a tight cellular structural arrangement that appears as a heavy, un-flyable mass.  Utilising lightweight materials and the symmetry of the module and composition, it is able to fly freely and steadily.

The Solution:
There were several challenges in realising Little Shining Man.  The structure had to be as strong and light as possible in order to fly, but had to return to earth with minimal damage so it could be installed as a piece of sculpture.

Queen & Crawford designed a joint system, the CKJ_01, a universal Nylon joint that would handle every connection in the composition.  Working closely with 3T RPD in Newbury, the 6,000+ individual joints were built using their plastic Additive Manufacturing technology.  This allowed the design, production, testing and refinement to be completed in a very short time frame. The Nylon material used is light and strong, perfect for this application.

Carbon fibre rod and Cuben fibre, a hand made composite fabric used primarily in racing yacht sails, achieved the perfect combination of strength and weight.  The visual impact of the fabric produces an ethereal sense of depth and refraction that gives the heavy mass the lightest touch.

The Result:
The kite flown in the images is one section of an arrangement of three, that come together to create the final piece of sculpture that is suspended in an atrium at Castle Quay in St. Hellier.  It is taken down once a year to be flown on Millbrook Beach in St. Aubin’s Bay, Jersey.  More than 23,000 individual components make up the complete structure.  Entirely assembled by hand, from design through to delivery took more than 16 months of work.

Extra bits:
Watch the video of Little Shining Man in flight.

Little Shining Man from Jimandtonic on Vimeo.

The Daily Mail also featured the sculpture on its science pages in January 2012.  The article includes lots of images and some of design plans.  It also reports:  Queen and Crawford “worked closely with 3T RPD in Newbury who are at the cutting edge of the Rapid Prototyping Industry. Printing the joints (using additive manufacturing) allowed design, production, testing and refinement in a short time frame.”

Conceived by Heather & Ivan Morison
Designed by Sash Reading
Engineered and Fabricated by Queen and Crawford
QCK_01 designer: Matthew Higginbottom
Fabricators: Matthew Foster, Matthew Higginbottom, Joseph Wheldon, Matthew North, John Hammersley
Machinists: Sue Fox, Zoey Evans
Kite Fabric Cutting: Automated Cutting Services
Video production and editing: JimandTonic
Photography: Matt Porteous

Related links:
Queen and Crawford