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CAD expertise assists art installation

Dante Giacosa's Wooden Forming Buck

Dante Giacosa’s Wooden Forming Buck

Ron Arad's Roddy Giacosa

Ron Arad’s Roddy Giacosa







Ron Arad is a designer, artist and architect with an established working relationship with leading Additive Manufacturer, 3T RPD Ltd.  Working with Arad on his “In Reverse” art installation, 3T’s in-house CAD services and fast build times enabled the plastic pieces to be built, assembled and shipped within very tight timescales. The entire installation was on display at Arad’s exhibition ‘In Reverse’ at the Holon Design Museum in Israel, from June to October 2013 to commemorate 30 years of Arad’s metal work. It is now at the Pinacoteca Agnelli, Turin until the end of March 2014. ‘In Reverse’ is an exhibition of a new body of work by Arad focusing on his longstanding relationship with the Fiat 500. As part of this exhibition Fiat loaned the original forming buck of Dante Giacosa’s Fiat 500.

The Brief:
Arad decided to produce a new sculpture, again 1 to 1 of the Fiat 500 using 10mm polished stainless steel rods, individually shaped and welded by hand. Fabricated in Italy, it took six artisans six months to produce the piece.

Taking the development of the idea one step further, Arad chose to create a digital simulation of the Roddy Giacosa with its welded connections removed, dropping against a surface in free space. With gravity as the only force involved, the rods splay like pick-up-sticks across the surface. Many different variations were used including different landing surfaces, angles and heights, all of which gave different results.

The Solution:
Once the final iteration of the drop was decided upon and all of the rods were completely static, the CAD data of the “final frame” was exported and sent to 3T RPD Ltd. The resulting piece measured 4.5metres wide by 3m high and had to be split into eight separate panels to enable them to be built in 3T’s Plastic AM machines. 3T has some of the world’s largest Plastic AM machines each with a build chamber of 700x380x580mm, although parts can be built up to one metre long on the diagonal. But even so, that meant that many of the rods couldn’t be built as single, complete pieces.

3T’s Design Engineer, Rob Weighill, had to determine strategic points at which to cut many of the rods to ensure the optimum build quality and the easiest way of re-assembling them afterwards. He also had to create the CAD for a hole in each end to enable a dowel to be inserted for the re-assembly. And to assist with matching up which part to join with which, the CAD was modified to include identification codes on the ends of each piece. The total amount of CAD work spent on all of this was a massive 27 hours!

Rob Weighill recalls it being “a long process to complete within a relatively short timescale. I had to determine a way to locate and re-attach the sections and implement it on the final build pieces with no time for testing. The whole assembly process was quite nerve racking as we simply didn’t have any time available for errors. But seeing the panels being assembled successfully and finally seeing photos from the first exhibition made the whole process extremely worthwhile and rewarding.”

The Result:
Once the final builds were removed from the build chamber, Ron Arad’s team spent two weeks reconnecting all the rods using the identification codes and dowels, and then assembled the eight individual panels, before being crated and shipped to Israel.

Set of rods showing dowel joins

Set of rods showing dowel joins

One panel of plastic AM parts

One panel of plastic AM parts






CAD simulation of "the drop"

CAD simulation of “the drop”

Art installation of plastic AM parts

Art installation of plastic AM parts






Extra bits:
Ron Arad talks about “the drop” process in his video from 3min 10sec and the final installed Plastic Additive Manufactured piece can be seen at 5 minutes in.

Further information about the exhibition currently at Pinacoteca Agnelli, Turin can be found here.

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