Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mom Really Gets it

Recently I visited my mom out at her lovely home in Ridgewood N.J. and was surprised with a wonderful gift. She had visited a local garage sale and found this, a 3d paper puzzle. She told me that she had to buy it because she recognized it's relevance to what I've been doing with rapid prototyping. I had explained to her that when I sculpt a model in the computer it is prepared as a file that can essentially be sliced like bread. Each slice has it's own unique profile. When you stack all of the slices the sculpture is reproduced. Thinner slices yield better detail, thicker slices yield lesser detail. It all seems pretty simple but, you'd be startled by how many people just glaze over, becoming transfixed in a wall of incredulity and first generation Star Trek episodes. The point is that she had grasped my explanation so well that she was compelled to buy this for me, immediately understanding the picture on the box. A truly thoughtful gift mom. Thanks :)

Last Sunday I opened the puzzle's box to find it full to it's very top with an accordion of uniform cardboard sheets, each with a shuffle of different puzzle pieces and corresponding numbers stamped in to it. I was daunted. I read the instructions carefully and found a numerical cheat sheet. I studied the numbers and their scrambled sequence and, became further daunted. Clearly, this was designed to be difficult, a game and process more so than the object it would yield. In that, it became apparent to me that this would not be a straight forward assembly. The box did state that it was a "Challenging Puzzle". I must commend the manufacturers, it is just that. I thought that the only way I was going to get through it was by timing myself. I managed to remove all of the pieces from there cardboard sheets in just under 20 minutes. I was encouraged by the pace that I had set and began sorting the pieces by relative shapes. As those shapes grew into groups, sections of the sculpture began to become apparent. After 6 hrs. and 8 minutes I had the angels that you see in these pictures.
As new fangled as this may seem to some, it is all actually base on an ancient practice by the Greeks or perhaps as early as the Egyptians. The process is called "Pointing". For a description of the measuring contraption please click HERE. Wikipedia does a pretty good job of describing the process but, it's off on a couple of points. They state that it's an 18th century french invention. It may be true that it was patented in that time but, it was based on principals that had come 2,000 or so years before it. Let's go back for a moment to my sliced bread analogy, the device simply measures the horizontal depth to the edge or, "Point" of a slice's perimeter. Once all of the surface measurements (points) have been taken, holes are drilled in to a marble block to the depths described by the pointing process. In order to do enlarging or reduction by this process is simply a matter of dividing or, multiplying the dimensions described by the pointing.

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