This Sculpture was Made with Over 1,000 Machined Parts
Ian Wright posted on May 02, 2017 |
(Image courtesy of Chris Bathgate.)
(Image courtesy of Chris Bathgate.)
This isn’t the first time we’ve highlighted the beauty of machining, but it is the first example I’ve seen of machining done purely for aesthetic value. Created by machinist and sculptor, Chris Bathgate, the sculpture in the image above was designed with over 1,000 individually machined parts.

“I had to make hundreds upon hundreds of custom bolts, pins and spacers in addition to the dozens of other more intricate parts that make up the assembly,” Bathgate wrote on his blog. After 14 weeks, the result was a sculpture weighing 88 lbs. and standing 20.5in tall, 17in wide and 11in deep.

“My art is very concerned with the intersections of aesthetics and engineering,” said Bathgate.

(Image courtesy of Chris Bathgate.)
(Image courtesy of Chris Bathgate.)
“I think there is a lot of beauty in the built world around us and much of that is hidden inside the engineered objects all around us. Part of my focus is to make engineered art pieces whose purpose is to get people to stop and consider the implications of all of the design choices that go into undertaking projects of this nature, be they utilitarian or just for visual appreciation.”

ENGINEERING.com had the opportunity to discuss this new sculpture with Mr. Bathgate in more detail.

 

What software did you use to design the sculpture?

(Image courtesy of Chris Bathgate.)
(Image courtesy of Chris Bathgate.)
I use a variety of software in my work. Rough sketches are made into 2D layouts using QCAD. From there, solid renders are made in Rhinoceros. G-code is either written by hand or generated using Dolphin CADCAM. My finished technical drawings are then recomposed in Rhino and pass through both Illustrator and Photoshop to reach their final form.

 

How much of the sculpture was made using manual machining vs. CNC?

I actually use a pretty diverse mix of tools. I used a mix of CNC and manual operations to make the parts for this piece. While the bulk of the work is done on CNC tools, I think almost every part I made had at least one manual operation as well. I use what is best suited for the task.

 

What machines (brand and/or type) did you use?

(Image courtesy of Chris Bathgate.)
(Image courtesy of Chris Bathgate.)
I am interested in tools that artists and other solo proprietors could use, so most of my CNC machine tools are homemade conversions. My first milling machine was a kit-made machine, but I have also adapted several Lathes and other machines to CNC using modified parts and mechanics of my own design. Additionally, I have recently added a few Tormach machines to my line up to experiment with those as well.

 

What was the most challenging aspect of making this sculpture?

(Image courtesy of Chris Bathgate.)
(Image courtesy of Chris Bathgate.)
Assembling it. Once all the parts are polished and waxed, it is very tricky to assemble something this complex without scratching or damaging those finishes. 

For more information (and pictures), visit Chris Bathgate’s sculpture blog.

Recommended For You