Sometimes, even for the gifted such as yourself, it takes more than the power of the mind to form massive chunks of steel into structures that look cool and don’t crumple when hanging bits of mountain from it.
For Corbett Griffith of Instinct Engineering, it’s completely natural. Since graduating Georgia Tech with a BSME and Minor in Sculpture, Corbett has churned out the most insane mechanical constructs you could imagine. It’s engineering mixed with aesthetics. Here, he fills us in on the process.
“Engineering centered Design”
Instinct does both full service Product Design and Sculpture Consulting, with a focus on projects that require a mechanical approach to design. We call it “Engineering centered Design” ™.
I think of the design process in Product Design as a straight line; from functional prototype to CAD model to tested and refined finished product. Product Design has a pretty well defined process that just about every consultancy follows. With public Sculpture, we tend to experience design as more of a circle. You get a lot of iteration involving various disciplines that are often inexperienced working with one another. In Product Design, there’s typically ID and ME, and we hash it out in an experienced way. But with Sculpture, I often work as the go-between for architects, structural engineers, the public, and the artist, none of whom have done anything like what the artist is proposing, including the artist.
I use rapid prototyping for plastic parts, but for large scale sculpture, the CAD model IS the prototype. There’s really no way to prototype a 100 ton steel sculpture. The artists do make models, but rarely off our CAD, and these are for artistic process, not engineering validation. We really do have to get it right the first time because there is never budget for a second try. This bleeds over into my products design practice… so all my prototypes work perfectly right the first try. 🙂
More Rock + Steel
I know you’re stoked on the steel now, so, if you’re wanting to find out more you can check out Corbett’s website to see what else he’s been working on. You’ll find he works with a lot of artist, takes their ideas and uses SolidWorks or Pro/E to create the digital design of the massive structures.
If you want to see more of the same type of creations, check out What’s COOL in STEEL (pdf link!) in the August Issue of Modern Steel Construction. In the article, Corbett has his work featured along with another steel artist we’ve covered here on SolidSmack. One who also uses 3D CAD (SolidWorks) to style his steel. Alan Rorie of Almost Scientific. He will have his Raygun Gothic Rocketdisplayed and ready for some flames at this years Burning Man Festival, which just so happens to be taking place the fist week of September at the Black Rock Desert, 120 miles north of Reno, Nevada. The overall metal design on the rocket was done by Corbett, but Alan Rorie designed and built the engine compartment and fabricated much of the rocket himself.