Large-scale interactive sculptures are truly a work of art that can brighten anyone’s day, lift our spirits, and bring inspiration. Behind every large-scale masterpiece, there is a journey of a team working together to ensure a successful project for the community to enjoy. If you were looking for design inspirations and ideas for your next art project, this is just the article for you! We will be showcasing the Fleur De LUX giant metallic flower that team Kinsculpt (@kinsculpt) brought to life using heavy duty actuators!
The Birth of KinSculpt and Fleur De LUX
In early 2021, an eclectic group of like-minded makers around Bend, Oregon (USA) formed a collaborative team called KinSculpt. The group came together in the middle of a very challenging year during the global pandemic with the goal to create beautiful art on a large scale that could inspire our community and lift our spirits. Ranging from artists, designers, project managers, engineers, and fabricators, their vision was to create "Fleur De LUX"– an interactive kinetic sculpture of a large metal flower that borrows its design from nature through mechanical organic biomimicry. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of hardship, the team wants their giant colorful metallic flower to evoke new life.
"Fleur De LUX" translates to the flower of light and represents the process that team KinSculpt went through together to make their dream project come true – A group of people coming together and cross-pollinating their ideas with one another, and these ideas blossoming into a concept and form. The flower is also symbolic of rebirth, regeneration, and connection, which is what people everywhere are craving, especially after the pandemic.
Check out the video below to learn more about team KinSculpt and Fleur De LUX:
The Vision for Fleur De LUX
Measuring a height of 18 ft, Fleur De Lux will have actuators to articulate eight steel petals which open to a 25 ft width span. With over 3000 addressable LEDs and beautiful acrylic color gradations patterned on each petal, this giant metallic flower really blooms at night festivals and parties. When opened, the large steel petals will reveal the flower’s stamen formed from handmade neon tubing and a central pistil containing a dazzling embedded LED display.
By encouraging viewers to control the metallic flower’s shape, color, and sound, Fleur De LUX draws people closer as a community. The large metal flower will move and light up based on the audience interaction from:
- Swiping their finger
- Voice control
- Using their phone
- Waving their arm
Building Of Fleur De LUX
During the pandemic and early stages of the project, the team held lots of zoom calls from the safety of their home to plan their design and concept for Fleur De LUX. Each team member sacrificed a lot of time from their other work so that everyone could contribute individually to the project. The group started out small with a few members at a local maker space but gradually grew larger as more members were introduced through the team’s networking and connections.
Quarter Scale Model
Before physically building the full-sized Fleur De LUX, team Kinsculpt started with a ¼ scale version of their project. This version had smaller actuators wired to switches that were manually controlled for driving the motion of the stainless steel petals. Team KinSculpt operates under the 501c3 umbrella of an organization known as the High Desert Makers – a dedicated group supporting Central Oregon makers and artists. The DIYCave (@diycave) in Bend, Oregon also continuously supported team KinSculpt with their general expertise and made sure the team had the shop access they needed to continue their project.
Below is a video of their quarter scale model in action:
Simulating and drawing CAD models
Jesse Pemberton @designdeschutes designed the full-scale model with CAD drawings while simulating the swing motion of the sculpture based on 8-inch, 9-inch, and 10-inch actuator stroke lengths. Comparing the pros and cons of each situation with the different stroke lengths was very helpful to do accurately on paper prior to working on the materials.
Cutting The Pieces to Shape
New bushings for the pivot points were machined by Jesse (@designdeschutes) to match up with our PA-17-POT heavy duty linear actuators. This allowed the team to swap out their previous model of compact actuators from a different manufacturer for our new heavy duty actuators.
Sheets of acrylic were cut into shape for the panels which were installed into the petals. These acrylic sheets were also cut and shaped in preparation for the casing of the electronics hub located in the center of the metallic flower.
Installation and Assembly
The assembly and installation process for Fleur De Lux included pivot assembly with counterweights to help balance out each petal as they move into position. The control system’s blue housing made from acrylic was then mounted in the center of the metallic flower. The nuts-and-bolts crew of Kinsculpt assembled the Fleur De Lux in preparation for their tech team to handle wiring later.
Wiring The Electronics
While the programming and coding aspects of Fleur De Lux continues to develop overtime, team Kinsculpt’s prototype has made some updates for the central brain to include more functionality. The tech team of Kinsculpt wired their upgraded electronics panel together with their LED lights, controllers, power supply, and linear actuators.
The data controllers are eight individual Arduino Megas with a custom-built PCB connection board designed by the tech team. Actuator movement and dwell times are regulated by coding presets to ensure the timing of each extension and retraction is coordinated to achieve the desired look of the sculpture and within the 25% duty cycle range of each motor. The internal potentiometers and factory limit switches were adjusted to ensure that each petal lands at the same vertical and horizontal position.
The operating system is a Windows based mini PC running MadMapper visualization software with an AlphaPix Classic 16 (V3 – E1.31 ArtNet to SPI) pixel controller. Their current (5V) LED matrix is roughly 3,000 RGB WS2811 addressable neopixels from Super Lighting LED (@superlightingled) powered by twin 5V/70A (AC to DC) Power Supplies Transformers by ALITOVE (350W each). The team is currently upgrading the LED system to a more robust 12V WS2815 array and working on plans for a variety of interactive sequencing.
Several of their previously installed lighter duty actuators from a different manufacturer continued to mechanically fail and give inaccurate data/position readings. Because of this, they needed replacement units that had a heavier duty design while still offering positional feedback so the controllers can read how far each actuator has travelled. Our PA-17-10-2000-POT heavy duty linear actuators were the perfect solution for this. With a force rating of 2000 lbs and an Ingress Protection rating of IP 65, the new actuators had more than enough durability and water resistance to handle the weight of each petal in outdoor conditions. Two of the ALITOVE AC 110V/220V to DC 12V 30A 360W Universal Regulated Switching Power Supply Transformers power the eight PA-17-POT actuators.
Getting Ready for Display
Due to the sheer weight and size of Fleur De LUX, the use of forklifts and tractors is required for shipping, disassembly, and setting up of such a large-scale project. Installation will sometimes require the team to work into the evening through the wind and rain.
Fleur De LUX at Events and Festivals
Team Kinsculpt has been bringing Fleur De Lux to many different events and festivals while their project continues to develop with more features and updates over time. Everywhere they go, the amount of intrigue and excitement received from the audience has been amazing and people always want to know where Fleur De Lux will be heading for its next trip. Some of the many events Fleur De Lux has been to include:
- Debut exhibition at the Central Oregon Maker’s Faire 2021 (@centraloregonmakerfaire)
- Bevel Craft Brewing’s 3 Year Anniversary Party
- Steampunk Festival 2022 (@mobiledanceparty)
- Burning Man Festival 2022
- Central Oregon Makers Faire 2022
Burning Man (@burningman) is an annual event held in the western United States focused on art, self-expression, self-reliance, and community. Their promo video for Burning Man Festival 2022 can be seen below:
During the Steampunk Festival in Bend, OR (June 2022), team Kinsculpt enjoyed a successful 2-day run with their new system on Fleur De Lux which used our PA-17 heavy duty linear actuators. Their trial assemblies performed well in their field tests and Fleur De Lux was very well received during the trial exhibit. The team was also able to accomplish the goal to bring Fleur De Lux to the Burning Man Festival 2022 and shared us their video:
By working as a team, choosing the right supplies, and installing heavy duty linear actuators, the Kinsculpt crew now has their Fleur De LUX giant metallic flower operating smoothly with moving petals! To see more from the Kinsculpt group, feel free to follow their website, GoFundMe page, and Instagram for updates!
Thank you to the Kinsculpt team for sharing your project – We look forward to seeing Fleur De LUX in the upcoming Oregon Country Fair (@oregoncountryfair)!
If you have any custom projects, applications, or technical questions about our products, feel free to reach out to us anytime. We are experts in what we do and will be happy to assist you with your future custom projects!
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