A Sphere Is Born!

 By Jason M. Colón
The team of Ellen Rotter, Rushiraj Brahmbhatt, and Ali Alwayel collaborated on the design and production of a hemispherical lattice, their submission for the GIZMO project, and the first in a series of assignments to be digitally designed and fabricated for the Special Topics: Digital Fabrication course.

The project was designed using 3d Studio Max and output as VRML file for 3D printing in makeLab’s Z Corporation Z510 printer. The significance of the VRML file output to the finished printed prototype was that it allowed them to print their GIZMO with color; a monochromatic blue. The choice to use color allowed them to further explore the capabilities of the equipment.

Not having worked together before the team had a small measure of trepidation in applying their individual aesthetic tastes, but were able to reach consensus on the design and each contributed to the final product. Being most efficient with the software Ali took the lead on the team’s modeling. The design was formed subtractively starting with a 4″ cube and pairing it down till nothing but a spherical 1/8″ square section lattice remained. In order to achieve the largest sphere from an object created in a bounding box of 6″x4″x2″—a constraint of the assignment—the team sliced their sphere in half for printing. The two halves could then be adhered together after printing to create a sphere.

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Hemispheres prior to repair

Unfortunately the delicate lattice of one of their halves fractured while being removed from the power bed of the printer. This proved to be the sort of learning experience the assignment was designed to provide. A lesson in sectional properties and the care required to extract complex shapes from the printer. Luckily the team was able to glue their project together with little evidence of their tribulations.

Their finished product made me recall a fond memory from my childhood, of an enormous bronze statue at Rockefeller Center in New York; it appears somewhat similar to the giant globe Atlas supports, except this time much smaller and in robin’s egg blue.

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Completed Sphere

After completing the project team member Ellen Rotter has since separated with the team due to scheduling conflicts.

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