John Kinstler
Internship project at the Exploratorium in summer of 2008.

My role in this project was part engineering, part design. For the engineering side, I was tasked with helping to create a 3D digital model of the Gyroid using the Exploratorium’s shop software standard, AutoDesk Inventor. The full Gyroid would be constructed of 27 pieces of the repetitive form (the chip or wafer) that, when properly rotated and connected to the other pieces, forms the full Gyroid exhibit, which will ultimately be a 10’ cube.

Then I was to try to model a flange that would fasten all the chips together at their corners. This flange would have to have the same curvature structure that all the different parts at the given intersection would have so as to sit flush with all the connected chips. A set of two flanges on both sides of the connected chips would then be bolted together with bolts that would also have to be countersunk so as to sit flush with the flanges. Additionally, part of the chips would have to be cut out at the corners so as to receive these flanges.

Ultimately, after being fully modeled this chip would then be fabricated in foam using a CNC router. From there a mold will be made of the finished foam model and the 27 chips fabricated using a rotocast method with a fiberglass reinforced (FGR) plastic. The flanges will probably be made similarly. Therefore, all the digital modeling would have to take into consideration a workflow with MasterCAM (CNC g-code generator), as well as breaking the models down into parts to accommodate the CNC router's extents and tolerances.

For the design side, I was tasked with trying to develop several different possible ways of helping users climb around in the exhibit. I looked at both protruding elements, akin to those found on climbing walls, and holes or recesses. The designs will be presented as sketches and possibly as digital renderings as well.

Consideration for symmetry was required to limit chip production to one model. For ease of fabrication, assembly/disassembly, shipping and budget constraints it is undesirable to develop designs that require more than one configuration of the chip.

Additionally, as time permitted, I was to think about a system for capping the exhibit at the top to prevent people from crawling around up there given space limitations within rooms with lower ceilings. Also, simply to limit access to the top for liability issues.

The video shown to the left was made of the first version of the full exhibit produced in the summer of 2010.