Archive for the ‘Art and Design’ Category

Unicycle Two was inspired by the first 3D print object I ever made in 2010 – Unicycle One, which was part of the 52 in 52 project. This first full object project and over 1000 subsequent projects since has been a massive learning experience. The following summarizes the progression that has taken place over these 11 years.

Unicycle Two (2021, foreground) vs. Unicycle One (2010, background) reflects the evolution of progress in creating finished art using 3D print technology. This includes surface finishing as well as approach to body fill and construction.

Not knowing the characteristics of the ABS plastic in 2010, I printed the first fixture solid, which consumed 115 cubic inches of material, at a cost of over $600. Ouch! Over the last 11 years, I have learned a lot about how to create objects with 3D printers, which is reflected in the latest iteration of the Unicycle design.

2010: The first 3D print object, using a Stratasys Dimension bst1200es, was printed solid and is unfinished. The design was done in Rhino CAD, and the separation of colors reflected the numerous sections required to build the fixture up. The driver and electronics are in the base. The arm and head were made from machined copper.
2010: The original Unicycle One was designed in RhinoCAD 3D
2010: The original Unicycle One was printed on a Dimension bst1200es printer in ABS+ material
2021: All current objects are designed in Solidworks Professional, which allows me far greater control over design features and part qualities.
2021: The new Unicycle Two is printed using a Stratasys F370, in ASA material.

In addition to learning the processes and materials involved, I have also developed various processes to properly finish the objects, and assemble them using appropriate adhesives to produce optimal strength. I have tested dozens of adhesives using lab processes to create a library of materials that will generate joints that are strong and long lasting.

I frequently do stress testing to verify object integrity. In the case of Unicycle Two, in a destructive test I discovered three issues that were corrected in further versions. One was a weak seam at the center of the body, another was a too-thin wall section that cased layer cracking, in the upper body, and the final a weakness in the arm detailing that allowed too much flex in the finished assembly. All of these were corrected in the final version of the design.
This is the collection of body parts for the new Unicycle Two, which took close to 50 hours to print, but used significantly less material compared to the original.
The raw printed parts are glued together into larger assemblies. Various solvent based adhesives are used, creating finished assemblies that are as strong in joinery as the components are individually.
Once the joints have cured fully, the parts go through a sanding process to eliminate the print lines and joint visibility.
Painting processes include several stages of priming and finish sanding to achieve the final desired appearance.
The finished parts, ready for assembly, are allowed to cure for at least 5 days, to avoid any damage during final object assembly and light source integration.

With a greater understanding of material properties, assembly creation, light source integration and adaptation of new hardware, the quality of finished objects has improved significantly, as has their strength and appearance.

This snapshot is a preview of the new offerings coming this summer in a collection of 16 new objects now in process. This iteration of the Unicycle not only uses less than half the material of the original, its finished quality is markedly improved as well.

3D printing was once a tool for industrial designers seeking a fast track to hands on prototypes. Today, it is possible for an artist to use the technology to capture a thought from imagination and convert it to tangible object, before the inspiration goes cold. This is an exciting and empowering capability.

Change is a truly difficult process to navigate. To make change happen requires a lot of effort and some level of suffering. Yet, not changing leads to greater pain. As Pip Coburn has pointed out in his book “The Change Function” – until there is some level of pain or crisis, change will not occur. The old stratus quo will continue until it has experienced something that causes it to realize that continuing is no longer an option. In the diagram below, it is called a “Foreign Element”, in Coburn’s book, it is the point at which the assumptions of an organization, actual market conditions, or reality, eventually catch up to it. Coburn points out that organizations that do not embrace real change in time frequently fail.

As illustrated, the path forward starts with resistance. When every excuse or fear, every justification and every irrational idea has been proven ineffective. The next phase will be chaos, as all of the building blocks of resistance collapse. That leads to tripping over one’s own feet, and wasting energy until a transformational idea emerges, and the battle to build the new Status Quo is embraced.

Image Credit: https://10minutehr.com/2013/11/11/chaos-in-the-organisational-change-process-dont-try-to-avoid-it-manage-it/

I have experienced this on every level with several organizations.

In the 1980’s I reached a point in my own company as a lighting designer, where what I was doing was not accomplishing what I wanted, it had become a routine drag, so I changed direction. I became part of a lighting product making organization that was in the midst of transformation that I could contribute to. The result was remarkable. We introduced ADA compliant products ahead of the market, and changed the company from custom house to standard product/custom mix, and realized truly exciting sales growth. Unfortunately, being young and stupid, I did not recognize that I was part of something special. So….

….Filled with hubris and big dreams, I moved on to another organization that was in the resistance and chaos phases, that was never able to get past the tripping over its feet stage. I thought if it could happen at company A, why not B? I was wrong. It refused to embrace transformation, as it was not yet feeling the pain of its situation to a level that would cause it to truly embrace change. It languished for many years, and I was helpless to it.

In an effort to avoid that ongoing pain, I packed up and moved once more, this time to an organization that had made the transformation years before, that had a new status quo that was stable and solid. This was easily the best place I have ever been part of. However, a foreign element emerged – a corporate acquisition that threw the entire organization down the slippery slope of resistance into chaos, that it has never recovered from.

My (idiotic) response was to return to the prior painful organization, in hopes that perhaps 5 years might have seen some realization. It hadn’t. And to make matters more painful, the first organization (Company A) had successfully found its path to a new Status Quo, and was fluoreshing – then managed to survive the crisis of acquisition better than most.

When solid-state lighting technology emerged, I saw it as an opportunity to jump past the resistance and chaos phases, by starting a new company that was part of the lighting industry’s transformation from bulbs to solid-state emitters, connecting tech to lighting manufacturers, and lighting to tech providers. It worked and I had several years of success.

The foreign element that caused my status quo to suffer pain, was the intrusion of every electronic supplier and LED manufacturer jumping in to offer what I was charging hourly fees for – free to manufacturers – on top of a growing number of competing consulting entities. So, I moved into light cure product development, where federal subcontract work was pretty solid… until a foreign element in the form of a change in Federal administration in 2016 shut down every program we were working on. Then, a resin performance issue emerged that closed off an entire market segment, erasing 7 years of development progress. So, in 2019, after struggling and tripping, and resisting, I took another position similar to one I held before, for an organization I was familiar with as a customer.

Not a great move. I forgot that: Change does not come from doing what you have already done. Nor does it come from taking a safe and familiar path.

There is a missing component to the change graphic – a phase of delusion. It happens somewhere in the resistance to stumbling phases, where you find yourself believing you are making change happen, or or part of a transformation, when it fact, you are not. In this case, I jumped into a familiar universe of resistance and chaos, with visions of being part of a rescuing team that would see the organization build a fresh status quo. It turned out I was just delusional. The organization, while feeling chaotic to me, in need of transformation, and in need of integrating functions, was perfectly happy being what it was. My attempts to energize change were not appreciated, which just led to resistance and more chaos. My bad. It showed me that change comes only from a large scale recognition of need, not some delusional do-gooder trying to save the company from itself. I won’t go down that road again.

In that time, I came to my own personal realization and transformational idea.

Rather than commit countless hours in service of another’s goals, why was I not putting that effort into my real interests and passions. The real transforming idea was to reset how I had gone about business, and what I was doing. My partner (wife of 42 years) and I have talked about my doing art for a living since we met. I resisted this idea for 42 years. No more excuses – time to embrace the chaos and stop resisting.

Now I am in the integrating phase, where pieces born of transformational idea are coming together. Where my resistance for years were founded on assumptions about how I might fail, I now know more about what I do not know, and am beginning to see pathways through this. From making ideas into finished works, to presentations and marketing direction, I am pulling together the integrative components necessary to see it through. This is not part time, weekends and evenings work. This requires far more effort, more time, and more thought than I imagined, and is much harder work than anything I have done before. There are also personal demons to be destroyed, and fears to overcome, on top of the practical issues in hand.

This last several months have solidified the epiphany that true change is the hardest work you can take on, is painful in its own right, and fraught with many obstacles. However, the question ultimately comes down to where you want to endure pain: A.) From a harried status quo existence that you feel deep down has a poor outcome, leading to crisis and greater pain? Or, B.) The commitment to the greater effort of change to something better and more rewarding?

I’m going with option B – until something forces me to change again – in which case it is still B. I am done with option A.

As I transition from design to artistic pursuits, there are several areas of difference that have come to me. Rather than blather on with words, I sketched a few cartoons that express the observations, in a series I am labeling “Designer vs. Artist”. I’ll add more over time.

3D printing can be accomplished using single or multiple materials. The future of the process includes printing integrated circuits, optics, circuit pathways, heat sinks, fixture bodies and enclosures. Robotics, combined with 3D printing stations, can assemble entire products with no fasteners, no seams, and no human interaction, from a bin of raw materials.

The process involves setting up a series of 3D printers that feed into a main printer that is printing a body. At various stages, the printer is paused, and components are installed into cavities, before the printer continues. This can also include potting of cavities, as well as creating wiring vias and paths for conventional wires to pass through. The finished product would have no seams to leak, no intermediate gasketing to fail. It is an integrated assembly that used no glue or seaming of any type, making the final product durable.

This process can be repeated 24/7, with no staff present, other than to keep the material supplies loaded (also done with automation in the local area of the machine.) Customer orders can then move directly from order entry into the production que, with all available selectable options of color, optic, LED power level, CCT, control interface, etc… since the entire fixture is created from software to real world, with none of the conventional inventory of parts, components, etc… through to assembly operations.

A Simple Example to Illustrate the Process

The following is a design and process I created from raw fixture design to printed, in less than 24 hours.

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Allow me to introduce myself in a way that a resume and LinkedIn profile is unable to. I offer the following brief illustrated run down of my career in 10 Acts. Sort of a Play of evolving interests that leads me to offering you a new resource. I hope you have a moment to enjoy this adventure as much as I have. Who knows, perhaps we might one day find ourselves on a shared path.

To start, I am an artist at heart, and have been for a very long time. My first punishment in grammar school was for using my imagination to color a birds in a manner the nuns did not appreciate. This, combined with other similar incidents of expressed independence, led to my being removed from Catholic school to be placed in a conventional grammar school where my “unique” approach would not present disrupt the order of the Rigid Penguin Queens.

I come from a background of a mother who was exceptionally talented in art, and a father who was an engineer and math professor, and a multi-generational family of entrepreneurs. My father showed me the way of being a professional adult, my mother the path to artistic expression. While this duality has afforded me insight into two worlds that rarely share the same space, it has suited me particularly well in lighting – which is why I spent so many years in the industry.

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Every designer has instances where they want to see a special idea or concept realized to fill a small, but essential need or want, but cannot find a path to see it realized. I know this, as I was a designer that started making things for my own projects to fill this need – which led to the formation of Lumenique.

Custom Frame Mount LED Picture Light

The need for something special may be as simple as a small iconic accent applied to a wall or door, a corporate image piece, a center piece at a corporate entry desk or conference table, a side table or dining table light that functions as accent source of illumination while making an artistic design statement. These are the inspired details that add nuance and depth, that makes a design pop – but are too frequently set aside for want of a source to make them real.

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Art is about combining materials and technology in a way that creates objects that reflect a vision or an idea. In some instances, artists find it necessary to innovate their own technology, or to apply one in a way unintended by the originator in order to achieve the end result they desire. Art is about experimentation and tinkering.

In my previous lives, I have done this many times – from using lithography films loaded into a 35mm camera for extremely long exposures for motion capture, to soldering house wiring together with a motorcycle fog lamp to make a sculpture.

This image (1978) was taken using 25ASA high contrast lithograph film cut and modified to work in a 35mm camera to facilitate extreme exposure times in full sunlight conditions.
This small light (1987) was made from copper house wire, plumbing solder, and a PAR36 motorcycle fog lamp.

Artistic inspiration is generally not bound by the physical reality it springs from. In many cases, it is impossible to create what the imagination or an idea brings forth. Yet, an artist that has become too involved in the workings and machinations of creation, often find themselves lost and frustrated. For these reasons, there is always a level of compromise. Available resources, time, and skill set combine to shape the universe within which an artist creates. Some of these limitations are by choice – as is the case for those who choose only to paint, or sculpt in clay – others are just the limitations of the real world.

Light Source Selection

I have been in lighting for 40 years, from virtually every angle – including design of lighting in spaces, design of products for manufacture, use of light to cure resins or disinfect water, and in artwork. I see light in things, in spaces, and in the world – it’s now just a part of what I see.

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Art vs. Design

Art is not media bound. It matters not whether a creation comes from spray cans, found objects, sculpted from clay, chipped out of marble, or painted with secret formula pigments. Art is the transformation of a thought or individual vision, expressed in forms to be experienced by others. Some art is intentionally fleeting, to be experienced in the moment that is lost to time. Other forms are permanent, to transcend the ages. Some art is heavily contextual, some dated, and some transcendent, changing in meaning and perceived value over time. It is all art. It is all creative expression.

Every stage of human artistic development has been boosted by the simultaneous development of enabling technology. In some cases, the artist themselves were the innovators, in others, artists are the benefactors of technology that emerged for other purposes. Early painters utilized paints of their own creation, where modern artists utilize a plethora of manufactured medium with which to express themselves. The art is not diminished, and the ability to create is enhanced by this transformation. Early sculptors chipped away at marble they sourced from quarries engaged in building architecture, or shaped clay taken from river beds or headed to brick factories, or cast bronze from the same processes and materials used for architectural metalwork. Today, sculpting comes in every imaginable form, using materials and technologies from the past, the present, and in the case of some, the near future. The introduction of the computer has opened doors into new realm of art – including digital works that exist only as data and projected pixels, art headed to any number of printing processes, and now three dimensional art directly from data using 3D printers.

There is differentiation between art and design. Design – whether it be Graphic or Industrial – is creative and artistic, but has a purpose, a determined value to be delivered. In this, Design seeks to first identify the need of the viewer (read “customer”) community, then deploy an end product to satisfy the intended number of viewers in a way that produces a commercial sales result. In this, the Viewer is the priority in which the Designer intends to serve. The Designer focuses every effort on the attempt to produce a clear understanding of the product created, in order to produce the most universal acceptance by the target audience (read “Customer”.)

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The following is the step by step process I use to develop a design or artistic idea into three dimensional reality using modern tools and technology. The images are from a current project just completed, and are not retouched, so you can see the raw process as it progressed.

Creative Process – In the virtual universe
Building the Model
While we once used pens and pencils to create drawings, when the end product is to be produced directly as a 3D assembly, creating designs within solid-model CAD software is a more direct, and more satisfying process. In my case, all sculptures and designs are created in SolidWorks. This includes all components to be utilized, to insure the final product will fit together. This is a highly iterative process, that may entail dozens of attempts and variations, as the design matures and evolves.
At various stages in the process, the model assembly or its parts are rendered to see how they might appear when completed. This affords me insight into proportion, and general appearance that the CAD software is lacking.
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In coming weeks, I will be rolling out my the latest creations through Lumenique. The following is an insight into what is to come, and its origins. As I get closer to a full launch, I will issue updates and further insights. I am excited at this new phase of Lumenique’s existence. What is coming is closer to my core passions and intent for the company, now studio, than it has ever been.

Background
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