Sketching With Iron Elements and 3D Printed Connectors

Introduction: Sketching With Iron Elements and 3D Printed Connectors

For a new interior design of PrintRoom (presentation space, shop and risography stencil workspace dedicated to artists’ publications based in Rotterdam) I was looking for a way to 'sketch' with iron constructions. I liked the idea of creating different shapes with a kind of DIY kit of iron elements and plastic connectors that can be connected in different ways.

If it is really possible to realize this idea? I don't know. I must be honest, while working on this project I sometimes lost sight of reality. Nevertheless, it was a great pleasure to work on the project. I spent a lot of time in the metal workshop, one of my favorite places in school, and discovered the big bright world of 3D printing.
The materials I used are very low-budget, because you can reuse the 3D printed connectors and the iron rod is much cheaper than for instance stainless steel. I found it refreshing to sketch with other materials then just paper and pencil.

That's why I want to share my work-process with you! Maybe you will be inspired to use this kind of sketching for your own projects. Maybe you have a suggestion how I can develop and improve this idea. Let me know!

Step 1: Connectors in Vectorworks

To design the connectors I used Vectorworks.

First I drew a rectangle with the rectangle tool, this is going to be the outline of the connectors. I decided to choose for two sizes: 20cm x 20cm and 15cm x 15cm.
With the eraser tool I erased the inner outline, which had to be big enough to put the iron rod into. I knew I was going to use iron rods with a diameter of 6cm, so I made a hole in the rectangle of 8cm x 8cm to ensure it would fit properly.

With the polygon tool I drew a line which determines the extrusion. I chose for both a straight shape an a shape with an angle.

To connect these two shapes, I selected them both and used the function 'extrude along path'. Then I exported it as STL.

Step 2: 3D Printing

This was the first time I used a 3D printer. A guy from Fablab helped me with the settings. To save money and time we chose for quite thick layers and a low fill density. After the 3D printer was warmed up, I could start printing!

Step 3: Iron Elements

Now the connecting pieces were printed, I started to measure, cut and bend the iron rod. I made a couple of designs in my sketchbook and from there I started working with the iron rod with a diameter of 6cm. The iron elements you see in the last picture are just a little part of the collection of iron elements I made. I used a lot of elements, all slightly different, to find the right shapes and connections.

Step 4: Start Sketching

While making iron elements I started 'sketching'. Different shapes came up and I made a lot of variations that were just a little better than the previous. In the pictures above you can see a selection of these sketches, there is a revolution visible from a simple shape to more complicated shapes. The last picture explains how the construction has to function in a space; the construction will determine the walking and viewing direction of the visitors. As you can see, the construction and maquette are still in a sketch phase at the time I took this photo (also my favorite phase of the process ;) ).

Step 5: The End Result for PrintRoom

But I couldn't stay in the sketch phase forever. I had to finish the project and translate the sketches into a functional interior design. I combined the iron construction with iron 'sheets' as tables where PrintRoom can put their books and posters on. The construction will also lead the attention of the visitors through the whole space, from the risographs to the books. The designs are made in Vectorworks.

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    1 year ago on Introduction

    Strange how singularity works.
    I did a thing like this in 1988, when I studied at Art Academy.
    Then it was connected by handmade wooden connectors.
    Rods were made of iron and bent by hand.
    No computers in those days.