"Rigsum Gonpo" 3D-Printed Sculptural Experiment 2018

This is a project from 2018 (so: begun using Rhino 5 and finished with Rhino 6), a followup to a related 2014 sculptural experiment in 3D printing and craft described here in the Rhino 3D galleries. There is a similar procedural operation (based on projections of a pair of equilateral triangles onto the surface of an enclosing ellipsoid) generating the form. The projecting organic “kite” shapes were to be 3D printed, or made using a vacuum-formed mold derived from 3D prints, supported by a hardwood framework locked into position by another set of (largely hidden) 3D-printed forms. Off-the-shelf hardware such as pulleys, mounts, and steel cable were sourced from McMaster-Carr.

The spikey structure was designed to hang in midair, on a complicated looping and tensioned trio of steel cables, and the height at which it was suspended could be controlled by the spacing between the eyebolts in the floor and ceiling mounts…or at least the process seemed to work with some tiny models I whipped up in my workshop.

For a working title for this assembly I used the Tibetan phrase Rigsum Gonpo, which is of course the term for the Three Protectors of Himalayan Buddhism, the bodhisattvas Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri and Vajrapani. I had been studying Himalayan Cultural Region (“HCR”) traditional architecture as well as traveling in Bhutan when I first developed this project, and I had been impressed with the way these supernatural beings were represented and invoked on various structures and natural features with poured paint in their specific symbolic colors. The organic kite shapes for my piece included simulated “dripping paint”: inlaid, colored 3D prints.

I also created in Rhino a sort of generic HCR architectural environment for “water-color-ish” renderings of what I expected of the finished sculpture, should I ever complete it.

But I never did. I had all the hardware sourced, as noted, and I knew I could print the spiky organic kite shapes as well as the supports for the wooden framework. But I realized I didn’t have the facilities to prepare those wood pieces: there are 132 of them, and they have to be precisely cut and drilled to an accuracy of at least 1/32”, well beyond my own capabilities as a carpenter with the power tools in my workshop. So I would have to find someone who could do it, or most likely someone with a CNC mill (or a water-jet, or an industrial laser cutter, or some digitally-controlled cutting system). And this looked to be an extremely expensive proposition, for a self-directed and non-commissioned bit of experimentation

So the design never went past the Rhino models and these renderings of them…except that I decided I liked the piece enough to put it on my Chinese language business card (我会说汉语), where no doubt it has served me well in protecting me from commissions from anyone with whom I happened to leave it.

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I think that with a drill press and a table saw, with carefully constructed jigs, you could achieve the needed precision for the wood pieces.

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Thanks. I have my doubts about managing precision woodcutting, at least without buying much better power tools than I have (or really, have room for). And I am really not that skilled as a carpenter. I’ve worked with furniture makers and fine cabinet makers on architecture projects, and I think someone like that could do it with the appropriate tools…if I paid them enough . There are just a ton of fiddly little things going on here with the supporting structure, which will probably require trouble-shooting and modification as it is assembled if it ever is. Ideally I should just get rid of the whole idea of mixing carpentry and 3D-printing and develop a solely 3D-printed variation as sort of a puzzle piece. Having mere mortals mixed up with the construction is the source of the problem.

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I think you could manage this quite easily but I can’t see the exact shape of all your wooden pieces. Am I right in thinking they are all 2D? - (i.e. could be cut from flat stock.)

If so, I would buy laser cut MDF or plywood templates and use these for a router with a bearing cutter. Draw round the template onto the wood stock, then cut these out with a jigsaw leaving approx 2mm all round. Then use a router to clean up the edges using the template and bearing cutter.

A lot depends on the shapes of your wooden pieces. You might need some joinery to create the blanks to then cut the final shapes from.

A scaled model that is scaled so you could fit the largest wooden piece onto a standard board width (say 6 inch or maybe 8 or 10 inch) should be quite feasible. You might need some joinery to make stronger parts though.

If your wooden pieces are 3D then this presents a further challenge but is not impossible.

Can you post images of just the wooden pieces assembled and un-assembled?

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Thanks. The wooden pieces are all 2D, and there are only in fact only four shapes. I will look into it after the holidays, but I believe that for most purposes this ship sailed about six years ago. At this point, this is just the colorful record of an abortive thought experiment utilizing Rhino.

I did design a successor during the COVID lockdown with a simpler wooden support system that could be cut from flat sheet goods like plywood with a band saw or even a hand jigsaw, but I haven’t presented it here because I used a different 3D modeling application (mainly to see if I could). So it’s a question of finding the time and money when there are always other less-arbitrary projects awaiting my attention.

I actually probably should look first for a new 3D printer…I still have a MakerBot Replicator, but it wasn’t terribly reliable before the company was sold and I hated dealing with them anyway. I would love some advice in that direction, if anyone can share.

I just replied to your other post.

Get a Bambu Labs P1P or even the new A1 mini. If you want to be able to print more exotic materials then consider their P1S and X1C models with the multi-material AMS addon.

If you just want to print PLA or PETG then the P1P is more than enough. They are fast, reliable, self calibrating, simple to use and produce excellent quality prints. I was blown away by mine. I’ve had it for about 6 months and I am still surprised by what it can print. Straight out of the box, it just works. The only thing I’ve had to do to mine is clean the print bed a few times.

There are other great printers out there but it seems you have to love tinkering and fixing them.

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Thanks, I will look into Bambu today.

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