The design for this lamp has been catching dust in my closet for years. I made the first prototype out of paper during my education quite some years ago. Ever since, it has been haunting me, showing up on my list of things to further develop. What got me to continue working on it was to use it as an exercise for learning Grasshopper, and because I got some support from Cultuurplatform Design for materials and tools.
It's not that hard to make a simple and cheap diy version of it by using handtools. But during my process of developing I found out it was a bit harder to make a proper version with decent, longer-lasting materials. In this instructable I will also mark some of the problems I experienced, and mistakes I made. Just so you don't have to.
I'm pretty sure there will be better solutions to some of the decisions I made so far and it will keep being a work in progress, improving over time. So if you have some ideas or doubts, I'm open for discussion and improvements. Also, feel free to use or adjust the design. And finally, if something is not clear, let me know and I'll try to adjust it.
Step 1: Choose Method of Production
You can make this lamp in 2 ways, depending on the access to machinery & software you have. How you will make it will also influence your choice of material and finishing. Cutting it manually will give you most control on the end shape, as you can decide and correct on the shape during assembly. But cutting with cnc machinery will be more easy, precise and faster. (Although, knowing from experience, you could often correct me on that) It also gives more possiblities on which material to use.
I've been trying out both the manual way of cutting and the machinery way. Lasercutting should also work but so far I haven't tested a full scale model yet, because of not having access to the right scale of lasercutter.
Step 2: Source Materials
You will need some standard components for making a lamp shade. Depending on what you want you can either go for high quality or cheaper diy finishing. Most DIY-stores will have everything you need, but if you want something different you can chose to buy from more specialized (online) stores. I ordered parts from a dutch distributor named snoerboer.nl.
These are parts you will need
- Light bulb (corresponding to the size of the socket)
- Lamp socket
- Strain relief - is it really called like this?- (optional)
- Hook for hanging (optional)
- Plug (optional)
- Sheetmaterial for lampshade: whatever you prefer for the final look of the lamp and how you are going to make it. Depending on the lightbulb and the material you chose you can use it either for moodsetting or for proper illuminating a room. The tricky part: the material needs to be flexible enough so you can bend the strips to reach the other side without folding or breaking but at the same time stiff enough to make nice round curves and stay that way. The thickness and properties of the material, size of the lampshade and size of the strips will determine this. And then, If you want to use handtools, you obviously gotta look for a material which you can actually cut by hand. Originally I tried it with paper which works fine, but I think over time the curves will quickly start to hang down.
- Support structure/material so the lamp doesn't collapse. In the first prototype I made I used balsa wood for support. It's lightweight and strong and can be cut by hand. In the next steps you will see I tried replacing the balsa with a U-shaped aluminium profile for a high end version.
Step 3: Cut Lampshade
- Draw & cut the strips to the right length
- Adjust grasshopper definition to right shape & dimensions
(I've been thinking of providing premade dxfs with different sizes but the material will influence the rest of the parameters as well (width strips, maximum en minimum diameter of the curves, ...) which is why I didn't in the end)
About the grasshopper definition
I've been working on the grasshopper definition over some time, starting on it from being a novice grasshopper user. So I guess there might be some strange parts in it or might be a bit messy. Parameters include length, height, amount of strips, randomness, and the option to change the part for connecting the strip (it's on layer "connection" and "slot" in rhino). It generates matching numbers on each side in order to create the lamp you see in the 3D preview. The definition requires the Fabtools plugin.
In the rhino file you will find the connection part I've been using, together with examples using different parameters.The 3D preview will not be 100% accurate but so far it's been coming out very similar. If you are going to choose dimensions in grasshopper, make sure your bulb will still fit in nicely. It's good to actually draw the shape of the bulb and lamp socket on the right size just to be on the safe side.
Step 4: Assemble Lamp
I found after a couple of tries that it's the easiest if you first attach the support structure and wire the lamp before assembling the strips of the shape. Wiring a lamp is quit easy. The strain relief thing makes sure the weight of the lamp doesn't pull on the connected endings of the wires.
For manual making you just have to start and find a nice shape on the go. For the cnc made shape you can use the connection I incorporated in the rhino file. You connect the parts by inserting from an angle and then turn it straight for locking.
Using a broom for assembly might also help.
Step 5: Hang 'em Up
Find a nice spot to hang it. You can use the hook to hang it to the ceiling and connect it so you can use the installed switch to turn it on/off. Or you attach a plug to the end of the wire and plug it in when needed.
Finished! Or is it...
What I could still improve on...
- Attaching the support structure to the lampshade in a nice and proper way (maybe incorporate it in grasshopper definition?).
- A way to balance out the lamp in an elegant way