Launching of The New

Posted: August 10, 2021 in Lighted Objects

After the effort of creating 16 new objects simultaneously, a process I was familiar with from the 52 in 52 exercise, it feels great to have these first pieces done, photographed and finally live. I took this opportunity to explore a wide range of approaches, forms, and general approaches. The intent was to see what felt the most right, and what felt the least right as I actually completed each work piece. I also discovered many areas of improvement I will be making in construction, forms, finishing processes, and ultimately scale and design vocabulary. This infinite and never ending “Work in Process” state of being is what makes this so compelling. I won’t always get it right, but even when I’m wrong, I gain something from it.

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The newest version of the flicker wheel is available with handle (shown) or in handel-less top version.

To operate, the wheel is spun with the thumb and forefinger at the center knob – with the color wheel exposed to the lighting condition being tested. Can be used to look at light falling on a task surface, or isolated to a single light source.

What you see here is an invention of my own creation designed to provide the operator an idea of whether the lighting system he/she is operating under is producing flicker within the perception of the human visual system. While there is always the wagging finger test, this does not fully expose the subtleties of flicker from room lighting. Here’s how it works:

No Flicker Condition: When you spin the wheel under daylight or a non-flickering lighting system or source, the Red-Green-Blue bars will blend together to create a dull grey appearance to the spinning wheel. As the wheel is spun faster, this will become smoother, with no color apparent at all. If you see any color at all, you are experiencing flicker of some level. Only with a total lack of flicker will the wheel appear to be uniformly gray in color. The best place to see this is under direct sunlight, as this will present no flicker at all.

Noticeable Flicker:  When you spin the wheel under a flickering light source, there is a whole kaleidoscopic of effects that appear. The most notable is the appearance of a rainbow color wheel effect, as the R-G-B regions are blended in strobe effect, that will be very wide at high speed (including the appearance of secondary colors Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan that are not on the wheel at all), to very narrow at low speeds. You will also notice that the radial patterns change in direction from clockwise to counter clockwise as the wheel speed changes. Further, at intermittent speeds, the color regions will turn gray with black wagon spokes, then change back to color at higher. In other words, you will be exploring the world of flicker effects in strobing both light and color, as the wheel is changes in speed. This effect will change both with time and wheel speed. At low frequencies (60Hz for example), the color bars will be very wide, as will the wagon spokes. As the frequency goes up, the width of the bars will be narrower for the same wheel speed.

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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.

What’s in a Name?

Posted: July 10, 2021 in Uncategorized

Names are just nouns, words, a collection of vowels and consonants in an order that allows the brain to create a pronunciation, or sound when spoken. In other words, nothing tangible. Yet, names and words are far more than that. Some, like “the” and “of” are binding words, that make sentence structure work. Others like “hot”, “fast” or “angry” impart feeling or action into a sentence. Names are words of identification.

Names establish identity to an organization, a person, or an object, that eliminates the need for additional descriptive words to create understanding and identity. Without names, how would we describe companies like Ford, Chevrolet, IBM, 3M, Apple, et al? How would we differentiate between the thousands of various products we live with every day. In many cases, the name of the originator of a product becomes the noun describing the general product category, like Coke and Kleenex, or Hoover (for those old enough).

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It has come to our attention that a new organization in the UK is in the process of marketing itself as Lumenique.

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There is a lot of buzz about the idea of 3D printing taking over as the prime manufacturing method for producing products, even buildings. Some proposals include the concept of entire products being made within one machine. While the ideas are interesting and enticing, their is a long list of things that make all of this more fantasy than reality.

Cost

While the cost of 3D printed parts has been improving over the last decade, they still fall well short of the piece part prices of production tooled parts. Ignoring the cost of tooling for a moment, the cost of a stamped, die cast, or injection molded part, run in quantity, is pennies on the dollar compared to 3D printed parts.

Production Time

The time that a 3D printer takes to make a part is measured in hours, compared to seconds for parts coming from tooled processes. A die cast machine, from raw material to cooled, ready to finish part might be a few minutes. Not that die cast and molding processes have a small amount of waste – as do 3D printed parts that have build trays to discard every few parts, and material that is not used from spools tails.

These two basic elements of part creation are just the beginning of the comparison lop-sidedness that ahs to be considered before running off an buying a 3D print farm.

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Just a quick update. I have been building product, a web site, a store front, and a business/marketing plan simultaneously. That means a lot of juggling of time. The artistic design guy (me) is holding up production (me), which means the marketing people (me) can’t get the photographer (me) the product images needed by the web site designer (me) to get the web site finished and the storefront developer (me) the proper components to build the store. Not only that, but their seems to be quite a bit of argument amongst these members (me) on what is to be released first, or do we launch everything at once. To make matters worse, the artist (me) keeps looking at the products as they are made and demanding changes be made, and the engineer (me) has been having a little difficulty with getting things to fit into the cavities provided for drivers and wiring.

However, I can say that we all are turning the corner. The new web site for lighted object artworks is ready to fill with objects now being completed in the shop – a total of 16 when it’s all done and dusted. Further, the on-line store is also complete, and populated with many non-lighted products and Tasca products that have been off site for nearly two years, but are now back on line, in addition to several new items that have been completed over the last several months.

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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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