Ritchie van Daal: Arcturus model kit

Ritchie van Daal is a designer who builds and experiments with the different possibilities of maker techniques. He tells about one of his projects, the Arcturus model kit:

Ritchie van Daal and Makerpoint Eindhoven join forces! Makerpoint Eindhoven and I did a collaboration based on our mutual interests. My personal line of work features all kinds of mechanical devices, machines, designs and art pieces.

The most notable of all being ‘The Artificial Selection Project’ which is my graduation project.

ritchie arcturus 1

‘The Artificial Selection Project’ features a man-made evolutionary chain resulting from a theoretic research on the movement of animals, recreated and further developed by creating numerous models and tests in a very trail-and-error way, ultimately manifesting and exhibiting that movement in a series of kinetic and mechanical sculptures.

In short researching and (re)creating new forms of mechanical life. This complex and trial-and-error nature is what had a lot of common ground with Makerpoint Eindhoven, at least from my point of view.

The crew and I hit it off pretty good from the start, eventually we set on a goal:
To create something parallel to ‘the Artificial Selection Project’ in which ‘make-ability’ was key, which had to make proper use of 3D printing techniques and which would be a benefit to the project.

From here on Ron (Makerpoint) and I had a few sparring sessions and eventually the concept of the ‘Arcturus Model Kit’ was born.

Arcturus – The Artificial Selection Project

The goal was to create an addition to the artificial selection project using Makerpoint’s resources and knowledge. As stated prior the result of this was a model kit version of Arcturus the bird.

The problem with 3D printing in general was that it is quite hard to print very complex mechanical parts consisting of multiple interlocking parts at once. Either due to serious limitations with FDM printing due to the necessary forced orientation of parts. Or limitations in necessary clearance in SLS printed parts. On top of this, it is fairly hard to print straight, round and sturdy axles in both printing methods as well.

This meant that no matter what, any parts printed had to be printed as loose components without axles and then had to be assembled later, with axles from a different material. Concluding from this the thought arose that it would be a waste of opportunity to find a way only to make 3D printed copies of the sculptures that already existed, that would kind of cheapen the experience on both ends.

Eventually this led to the idea to create something other than just merely a copy, but something that people would be able to order, or even print and put together themselves. The next problem would be, how should the axle problem be tackled? The answer to this was actually quite simple: toothpicks. Something everybody has in his or her home, and if not, they’re easily obtained at a local grocery story.

Where in the original artificial selection singular linkages actuated by linear cables were solely used, this kit functioned much differently. A single rotary axle drives and actuate al other mechanical systems and linkages in the kit. This would need a much more complex series of mechanical organs. And obviously this led to a series of prototypes.

Parts of prototype 1

Parts of prototype 1

It took 5 prototypes in total, coincidentally resulting in that characteristic ‘evolutionary chain’ as well. The first prototype was very crude and not really a very good product at all, only half the mechanism worked, which featured a sliding mechanism to raise the wings, which did not work, and two worm gear driven flywheels spreading and closing the wings, which luckily worked well.

The second prototype was a complete overhaul of the original prototype, the sliding mechanism which actuated the wings got replaced with a gearbox and featured flywheels which actuated the rise and fall of the wings. The whole body of the creature was made more sturdy and some minor adjustments to the wings were made. This would be the template from now on.

The third fourth and fifth prototype didn’t differ much from the second, some minor adjustments were made and a few brackets were added. Some measurements were off and some extra brackets were needed to make the body even sturdier etc.

The fifth prototype was the last, as described prior, there wasn’t much that needed to be done after prototype two, just some minor changes.

Finished Model

Want to see more of Ritchies designs? You can visit his website, www.ritchievandaal.com or see his designs in real life at the Yksi Expo in Eindhoven.

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