Pouring Teapot – Scale “oversized”

This slightly surreal model showing an oversized teapot frozen in mid pour into an oversized teacup presented a number of technical problems. The heavy looking teapot had to be made very lightweight so that it could be supported by the pouring column of tea. The “tea” element of the model had to be sculpted and cast as a separate unit (in tinted clear resin) that would fit into the cup and into the spout of the teapot. The cup and saucer had to be weighted so that the whole model would be a freestanding unit. This was just one of a series of half a dozen different models for a huge multi-national company. The models are to be used as eye catching 3D displays in support of marketing promotions within the company’s main branch offices. They may be required in large numbers if the promotions are rolled out worldwide.

Trident Missile – Scale non-specific

At 2 metres tall this model of a Trident Missile is certainly not life-size and we were unable to establish the exact dimensions of the real thing, hence the “Scale non-specific” comment above. Made from a combination of fibreglass and plastics with a painted finish, the model was designed for use as an eye-catching display at exhibitions in the UK and abroad. Because it had to travel we supplied it with a purpose-built protective flight case.

Fantasy Ice Cream Machine

The client’s brief for this project came in the form of the very rough sketch you see in the inset photo along with a verbal description of what he wanted - a working fantasy ice cream machine to go into his brand new, ice-white themed, children’s party room. On a very tight budget we came up with this design featuring lots of buttons to press, revolving poles, moving lights, sound effects, voice-over instructions and incorporating a working freezer in the middle as well as hoppers for dispensing various toppings on the right hand side. We would have loved to have done something much more organic and Willy-Wonka-esque but there just wasn’t the budget so we had to keep the cabinet shapes simple and boxy to save money for the interactive element. The idea of the machine is that children can “make their own ice cream” and add whatever toppings they want. I just hope that the children have as much fun using it as we had making it.

River Bed Model in Fibreglass – Horizontal Scale 1:125,000, Vertical Scale 1:125

Commissioned by Cardiff University’s Engineering Department, this 6 metre x 4 metre fibreglass model of the River Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel river beds was a very technically demanding job, not just because of the huge volume of complex data involved but also because of the sheer size of the project. Comprising several large sections that bolted together, it had to be an accurate representation of the riverbed contours (at an exaggerated vertical scale) because it was being used for physical experimentation in a major research program on tidal power generation.

 

How we made it

The first stage was to create a “mirrored” negative (upside down and back to front) version of the river bed contours all the way from Gloucester, down the Bristol Channel as far as the open sea. This comprised six major sections and several smaller, infill sections. These contours were made from laser cut acrylic layers supported on an MDF substructure, all fixed onto a structural base board with upstanding sidewalls. To construct the accurate depths and contours we had to create our own CAD masterplan using a combination of traditional Admiralty Charts, CAD contour maps, reams of numbers giving spot depths, and numerous sections through the river bed at key areas.

Once the basic structures of the moulds were built, the contours then had to be blended into a smooth continuous “land-form” using various filling techniques. At the same time great care had to be taken to ensure the contours matched perfectly across the joins between the sections. The contours then had to be sealed and “polished” to a fine finish so that the fiberglass forms would come away cleanly from the moulds once they had cured.

The final stage was to layer up resin and fiberglass matting into the moulds, starting with the “gelcoat” layer (which is in effect the top layer and is the visible finished colour) and then several more layers of resin and matting to build up the structural integrity. The fibreglass sections were then eased out of the moulds and flipped the right way up, ready to be joined together on to a structural sub-frame which supported them all at the right height. The image shows the sections just after they have come out of the moulds. They had been loosely assembled on the floor to check for fit.

1:1250 Masterplan Model

Commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government through an exhaustive tendering process, this model’s role was to illustrate the new infrastructure and planning proposals for a major new development area in the docks and coastal fringes of Llanelli, South Wales. The model showed new road links, new residential areas, and commercial development areas. It also used button activated fibre optic lighting to highlight six different development zones.