3d rolled framesTurning Your Avant-Garde Sign Concepts Into Realities...
“Hey Ian, are you interested in making some of these, two sets required, around 1500 mm. high, and vandal proof”?
Now, this particular client is really easy, I always get good briefs, as well as a lot of free rein on his jobs. As usual, all of the fabrication details are left to me to sort out, like choices of materials, etc.
This particular job though, was not going to be at all easy. The signs had to be joined secretly, and have a definite substantial thickness to them, so simply rolling sheet metal was not going to do. I was going to have to roll some 25 x 25 square tube, on two planes to get the shapes, and that was when the trouble began...
I cut out a template from sheet metal, and from that, I measured and cut the twelve lengths of square tube required for the two sets of signs. Once cut, with a little green on each end, I proceeded to roll them into their first shape, by step rolling, and repeatedly matching against the template, so far, so good. Once I was satisfied that the arcs (more french curves) were correct, I tried to roll the pieces again through the rolling machine... fail! The grooves in the tube roller wouldn’t accept the pre rolled sections... plan B required!
I decided to try my thirty tonne Pneumatic Over Hydraulic press, to see if I could perhaps inch press the second plane. I made up a polyurethane top die, and some timber bottom dies, and presto, success! It was a time consuming task, but quite accurate.
Once the shapes were rolled twice, it was time to weld them together, another problem! Keeping the inherent twists on correct plane became paramount, and there were a lot of clamps and sequential welds done to achieve this. Okay, so the end is in sight, or so I thought... I wanted to place some heavy flat bars in the structure to keep the aluminium composite sheets rigid, and I didn’t realise that the bars also had to be twisted to suit, not just rolled, but twisted as well... when will the fun ever stop?
Right, so we got all the gnarly stuff out of the way, now to trim the edges so as to give some cameo relief, to allow the faces to sit inside the relief, and give a flush finish effect. This was achieved with thick sheet metal, rolled and stretched, and was not too troublesome at all.
Lastly, I had to weld on the half rosettes onto the top of each frame, to lend support to the composite faces, this was also part of the vandal proofing I had to prepare for.
Blessed them all with love, and called the client to take them away please, so he can do his painting and graphics, followed by installation.
Pretty tidy I think...
3D Rolled Frame Shields For Lutheran School At Tanunda, South Australia