Buckyball

Introduction to Fabrication

06 Nov 2018

This weeks assignment was to make five of something. Being an amateur maths enthusiast my obsession with geometric structures and buckminster fuller continues so I wanted to iterate in my geodesic dome from last week but simplified to be a truncated icosahedron or a buckyball. The structures can be found on wolfram alpha.

Originally I intended to make them out of wood and I prototyped making one out of cardboard.

cardboard prototype image

At this point I felt pretty good about it. But I remembered that I would have to make five so I spent a long time thinking about how I could pull it off. Last week I had a lot of problems when it came to assembling/ gluing. So I decided that my best bet would be to create armatures.

I found a decent piece of scrap wood to make a wire bending jig.

image of first jig

I tried using interior nails in the shop but found that they were to thick and gave too much of a radius. It was running late and the hardware stores were closed so I ran out to Walgreens and got a box of pushpins and laboriously trimmed the caps and nailed them in. This took an evening.

image of cutting pins

image of jig

At this point I was wondering if it was still a good idea as many passerbys asked what i had going on and either said that looked like an insane amount of work or not feasible but not one to let bad ideas stop me, I pushed on.

I had earlier got a roll of 20 gauge wire thinking because I wanted something that could hold its structure. But on a small scale the wire would not bend easily so I moved onto 28 gauge wire.

My process was to wrap my wire around the jig to make my templates. I then soldered the connections. After that I assembled the icosahedrons and soldered the joints. The first sphere took 2 hours but came out pretty good. The second one took longer, three hours, and this time it didn’t come out very well, but I felt like the process worked.

image of wire on jig

image of wire out of jig

image of wire on jig

Over the course of a few days I assembled more and more. With more practice bending the wire and soldering I was able to cut my time to 1 hour a form from bending to assembling.

first one

image of completed truncated icosahedrons

So while I didn’t come out with 5 wooden icosahedrons I now have 5 wire armatures. The structures themselves are surprisingly strong due to the geometry but the wires are still malleable. I have high hopes using the laser cutter to cut the panels out and fitting them into the armatures.