Biomechanics and Catapults

Last week I had a blast teaching 13 students from the Field Museum’s Digital Learning Department the basics of the 3D modeling program SketchUp. With the help of the Museum’s Fabrication Department and their two ShopBots, the students began designing and modeling catapults after only a couple hours of training.

Catapult  10561746_10152129498952273_5227711713399092135_nimage22

Creating catapults is part of a two week summer program about Biomechanics from the Machine Inside Exhibit that is currently at the Field Museum. I had the chance to take a look at the exhibit before the class began, and it’s great! One of the best I’ve seen. It combines both physics and biology and has some fantastic examples of biomimicry. Biiomimicry is also part of our curriculum at DukeTIP . More on that coming soon.

screen-shot-2014-07-17-at-3-03-07-pm    screen-shot-2014-07-17-at-3-00-02-pm image48    image46 image44    image47 The catapults are being cut using a CNC mill this week and will be launched this Friday. You can check on their progress on their Facebook page or their WordPress page. For launch day, the students will continue to use their new SkecthUp skills to create 3D printed projectiles.


Paper Archiecture

Using the Flattery SketchUp Plugin I created a fordable model created out of 5 sheets of paper. You can cut them out using an old school method of a razor blade or you can cut them faster with a laser cutter. So from 3D to 2D and back to 3D!

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Thanks to everyone who voted for this project in the past!

Render Your Time and Money Effectively

Next Limit Technologies has come up with a great affordable plugin for SketchUp, a simpler version of their very powerful Maxwell Render.  Here are some quick one click renders using only SketchUp materials, sunlight, and environment.  See SketchUp exported images here.

There seems to be some limitations with advanced interior lighting, if there is not a lot of daylight but, who designs without daylighting anymore.  For $95 and one click not too bad!  There is a great set of starter tutorials that walk you through the interface as well as a large library of Maxwell textures and skies available for your rendering pleasure. Your SketchUp materials can also be saved with the Maxwell render settings for ease of use later.  As you can see from my portfolio, I am not a huge fan of photo-realistic renderings.  I find my time better spent on designing instead of waiting for renderings. With the new plugin though I can now have the best of both worlds without a lot of hassle.  Overall the Maxwell plugin is a well priced, simple, and powerful addition to your SketchUp workflow.

Architectural Bounce House?

What a great way to bring in the new year with a bit of fun.  Whenever I would describe this project to one of my non-architect friends they immediately think “bounce house.”  That may not necessarily be a bad thing, bounce houses bring back memories of fun and maybe a rolled ankle or two.

To be more architectural about the inflatable Bike Parking Oasis.  It was created with the quote from Buckminster Fuller, and Norman Foster in mind.  “How much does your building weigh?”  Also an Arch-documentary by Norman Foster.  We saw the film at last year’s Chicago Architectural Film Festival in Chicago, where we also met Bjarke Ingels.

It does not get much lighter than a portable inflatable structure that defines space and provides seating.  The project also pushes the boundaries for some, in that it takes up a “valuable” car parking space.  The title of the project comes from the sometimes vast desert of adequate bike parking in many areas around the city.  If bicycles are supposed to follow all of the same rules of the road as vehicles, why are they not granted the same parking rights?  For more details about the project, click on the image above.

Many more projects currently in the works for 2012.  Architecture, furniture, objects, 26lab curriculum, paper toys, graphics, and more DukeTIP Keep an eye out!

Happy Holidays!

Here are a few things that we were working on over the holidays.

Stocking holders created at MSI Chicago, Fab Lab for DS26. Laser cut acrylic.

Recyclable wrapping paper, thanks RedEye! It’s all about the details.

And a paper craft star.  Thanks Unfold Plugin.

X-men Knuckle Bump for X-mas!

Collect all three, before the end of the year.  A great last minute, FREE, X-mas gift for all.  They look great on the desk, on the Christmas tree, in a stocking, or helping out with holding the new phone you got for X-mas. Have fun folding and have a great holiday.  Princess, X-men, and Zombie.

Be careful you might poke your eye out!

Only for fun, any reproduction rights or copyrights belong to & Robert Zylstra. See post below for ideas and finished Knuckle Bump.


No, not teen werewolves and vampires but, the Twilight Render plugin for SketchUp.  It is a great value for only $100 and works pretty well as a direct plugin for SketchUp.  The interface is extremely easy to use and I was able to develop some quick renderings using the Paper Art Gallery SU model that I had created already.  The bump maps were a little buggy at times, especially while working within groups and components.   All of the images below were directly exported out of SketchUp, no post production.

The watermark is on all of the images because, I was testing the demo version.