Retooling the mold

Date:  Winter 2014
Technology Seminar
Institution:  UCLA M Arch I
Critic:  Heather Roberge

Through this technology seminar, students were asked to explore the potential of digital tools not simply for their ability to produce “one-off” objects, but rather to investigate their capacity to produce a “non-standard” mold capable of casting a series of objects. 

   


In a design climate that increasingly prioritizes digital tools, an intimate knowledge of form as learned through the process of making seems to be less and less common.  In addition, while access to 3D printers and numerically controlled devices may be on the rise, these tools are limited in their capacity to economically produce serial copies of designs.  Through this technology seminar, students were asked to explore the potential of digital tools not simply for their ability to produce “one-off” objects, but rather to investigate their capacity to produce a “non-standard” mold capable of casting a series of objects. 

The following project utilizes a flexible silicon skin patterned so that it may be reconfigured to produce a series of different vessels.  Informed by a simple array of rigid triangular panels mounted via nylon screws embedded in the silicon skin, the possible variations of form from this flexible mold are nearly limitless.  Ultimately, the greatest opportunity and challenge of this flexible mold system emerges as the mold and casting technique introduce a near infinite set of influences that can affect the expression of silhouette and the details of any one casting. 

Vessels-Folded-Patterns.png
Vessel-Pattern.png

Flexible Mold Preparation and Assembly

Vessels-MoldAssembly.png
 

Rotational Casting Machine

  1. A wooden handle is fixed to a medium pulley threaded with a sturdy rubber belt. As the handle is turned, the rubber belt rotates around a large pulley mounted to the support frame and a smaller pulley that rotates driving a rod and miter gear. With each rotation of the wooden handle, the pulley, belt and miter gear assembly set into motion an inner and outer wood frame rotating around two axis.

  2. Close-up of the large pulley. This pulley is mounted to a metal rod that is fixed to a wooden handle.  Each turn of the handle correlates to one rotation of the pulley.

  3. Side view of the rotational casting machine. The smaller pulley (lower left of image) is mounted to a metal rod and allowed to spin as the outer wooden frame turns.