Aug 3, 2017 | By Julia

Autodesk’s Pier 9 workshop has teamed up with London-based experimental design studio Convivial Studio to create a series of 3D printed skateboard sculptures. Not just any art project, the Pier 9-Convivial collaboration is an innovative exploration of movement and technology: the two teams worked together to gather movement generated by skateboarding tricks in real time. The result is a striking series of intertwined lines wrapping around each other, and a celebration of urban street culture like you’ve never seen before.

In order to capture the movement in its entirety, Pier 9 and Convivial designers sought to attach a sensor to the bottom of the skateboard, which then relayed information back to their software. But they quickly ran up against technical challenges, namely: how to achieve spatial position tracking with small electronics, and without cameras and computer vision; and how to create a sturdy yet compact case for the electronics.

Through some serious tinkering, the makers created a solution through an Arduino-based board, three different sensors for distance, orientation, and speed, a small battery, and of course, 3D printing.

“The main difficulty for this project is build[ing] a case able to resist the tricks impact. You can try 3D print a case however it might break with the first tricks,” explains a Convivial Studio rep. “I was lucky enough to have access to a Haas Mill lathe able to machine aluminum. After iterating a 3D printed prototype I milled a final version in aluminum. I decided to only build the base plate part of the truck and re-use the top part and the bushings,” he says.

After the various sensors were attached came the fun part: going out and skateboarding! For each trick performed, a unique set of data was generated. A treflip produced different data than a heel flip - same goes for an ollie, a flip back, and so on.

Interpreting the data proved to be another serious challenge. Convivial ultimately used a bespoke openFrameworks application, in which they manually defined the beginning and the end of the trick. Improvements could certainly be made, however, acknowledges the London design studio.

After smoothing the trails and creating ‘particle effects,’ the models were ready to be 3D printed. A Fortus 450mc was used for printing the wheel trails, while a ZPrinter 3D printer was reserved for more detailed color prints.

“This project was great fun, especially working at Pier 9 in San Francisco which is next to many famous skate spots,” writes Convivial Studio. Now, with a functional technique under their belt, Convivial staff say they’re keen to 3D print larger skate tricks in the future.

See the entire process from start to finish on Convivial’s Instructables site.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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