THE ART OF FLIGHT
As the name indicates, the piece aims to imitate the motion of a bird in flight. This sculpture was born out of the first project assignment for the Introduction to Mechanical Prototyping course offered at Olin College of Engineering. Teams of five students were tasked with creating a mechanical sculpture of our choosing to be driven by a single DC motor. In order to do so, we were given 3 weeks, a "prototyping kit", which included things such as a 1/2" brass rod and a 4 ft x4 ft aluminum sheet, and $100 for any other necessary items.
Historically humans have always aimed to imitate nature in their pursuit of progress. This mechanical sculpture pays homage to this desire to mimic the immaculate designs nature has perfected through millennia of evolution. The Art of Flight mixes the graceful motion of a bird flapping its wings with the mythical beauty of a Phoenix, our school mascot.
The piece was first designed and simulated in SolidWorks. This tool allowed us to play around with the offsets to ensure a smooth motion.
The top structure and its components are predominately fashioned out of 1/4" thick aluminum cut using a water jet and perfected on a mill. The base upon which the mechanical component stand was routed from a single 1/2" sheet of wood and stands 3 ft tall.
The mechanism is comprised by 24 cams offset at 15 degree angles split into two shafts. Upon rotating the shafts in opposite directions, the phase change between the cams creates a sinusoidal motion which mimics the changes in gate of a bird in flight. Said motion is accentuated by the feathers resting on each cam. The whole system is driven off a single motor and a chain arrangement that allows the shafts to rotate in opposite directions.