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Title:
METHOD OF THREE-DIMENSIONAL THEMING
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A method of fabricating a thematic design article is disclosed. One of the embodiments of the method comprises the step of formulating from a three-dimensional computer model of an article, design parameters for panel elements of the article. The method further comprises the step of controlling a wire bending device responsive to the design parameters to form the panel elements, wherein the panel elements are comprised of horizontal and vertical sub-elements comprising continuous sub-panels, linear cut to form sub-panels, or a combination thereof.


Inventors:
Buckley, Paul (Oak Park, CA, US)
Caruso, Anthony L. (Northridge, CA, US)
Damasco, Sanford D. (Irvine, CA, US)
Hilario, Paolo (Walnut, CA, US)
Nylander, Paul (Laguna Nigel, CA, US)
Rey, Gerry (Buena Park, CA, US)
Stapleton, Tom (San Pedro, CA, US)
Trinidad, Ryan (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/264156
Publication Date:
05/07/2009
Filing Date:
11/03/2008
Assignee:
Scenario Design, Inc. (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
140/71R
International Classes:
B21F45/00; B21C51/00
View Patent Images:
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Dykema Gossett, Pllc Los Angeles CA -. (333 S. Grand Avenue, Suite 2100, Los Angeles, CA, 90071, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method of fabricating a thematic design article, comprising the steps of: formulating from a three-dimensional computer model of the article, design parameters for panel elements of the article; and, controlling a wire bending device responsive to the design parameters to form the panel elements, wherein the panel elements are comprised of horizontal and vertical sub-elements selected from the group consisting of continuous sub-panels, linear cut to form sub-panels, and a combination thereof.

2. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of assembling a plurality of the panel elements into a first panel section.

3. The method of claim 2, further comprising the step of connecting the first panel section to a second panel section.

4. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of assembling a plurality of the panel elements into a first panel section of horizontally bent wire.

5. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of assembling a plurality of the panel elements into a second panel section of vertically bent wire.

6. The method of claim 2, further comprising the step of applying a matrix material to the first panel section.

7. The method of claim 1 wherein the formulating step includes the sub-step of identifying a gauge for a wire.

8. The method of claim 1 wherein the formulating step includes the sub-step of identifying a material composition for a wire.

9. The method of claim 1 wherein the formulating step includes the sub-step of determining a volume of the article.

10. The method of claim 1 wherein the controlling step includes the following sub-steps: bending a first continuous wire to form a horizontal panel sub-element; bending a second continuous wire to form a vertical panel sub-element; and, joining the horizontal and vertical panel sub-elements to form the panel element.

11. The method of claim 1 wherein the controlling step includes the following sub-steps: bending linear, cut to form wire to form a horizontal panel sub-element; bending linear, cut to form wire to form a vertical panel sub-element; and, joining the horizontal and vertical panel sub-elements to form the panel element.

12. A method of fabricating a thematic design article comprising the steps of: formulating from a computer model parameters of a three-dimensional article, wherein the parameters comprise horizontal, vertical, and otherwise intersecting elements of a surface; creating an instruction set from the parameters and intersecting elements of a three-dimensional representation of the three-dimensional article, whereby a computer numerical controlled wire bending apparatus forms the intersecting elements; integrating the intersecting elements to form a panel section; assembling a multitude of similarly fabricated panel sections to form an accurate shape of the three dimensional article; and, processing the panel sections and applying a matrix material to the assembled panel sections.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein the computer model is a CAD (computer-aided design) model.

14. The method of claim 12 wherein the intersecting elements are wires.

15. The method of claim 12 wherein the matrix material is a polymeric material selected from the group consisting of polyvinylchloride and polyethylene.

16. The method of claim 12 wherein the intersecting elements are formed by the wire bending process in a continuous manner.

17. The method of claim 12 wherein the intersecting elements are formed by the wire bending process in a non-continuous manner.

18. The method of claim 12 further comprising the step of applying paint and design elements to the assembled panel sections.

19. A thematic design article formed from the method of claim 1.

20. The thematic design article of claim 19 comprising a boat, tree, root, building, cave, mountain, rock, waterfall, pool, pond, river, stream, character, free form sculpture, or nature scenery.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of provisional patent application U.S. Ser. No. 60/985,093, filed Nov. 2, 2007, which is expressly incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND

Theming generally comprises the design and creation of three-dimensional structures for use in entertainment, parade, decoration, advertising, architecture and other artificial scenery applications. In one application, theming is used extensively in theme parks for the creation of realistic natural and fantasy scenery, as well as in television and motion pictures to create the illusion of realistic, or fantastic, scenery. Theming may further be utilized, for example, to create a scaled-down mountain scene as a part of a log flume ride at a theme park, providing the customer with the simulated experience of a ride through mountain country. Specifically, theming may be used to create realistic rock work to form a mountain or other natural scenes without having to use actual boulders or unwieldy and expensive rocks. Furthermore, the substantially hollow structures created by theming allow concealment of machinery, cables, and other infrastructure.

Theming is accomplished in four primary phases. First, in the design phase, the size, shape and relative dimensions of primary and secondary structures are determined. Second, in the planning phase, material requirements are assessed and analyzed, the project is dissected into areas, zones, scenes, elevations, and order of assembly is determined. Third, in the fabrication phase, the latticework for primary and secondary structures is assembled. Finally, in the field fabrication phase, steel construction is accomplished, cement and other surface preparation is done to the latticework, and painting and other artistic decoration is done.

Traditionally, theming of three-dimensional elements is accomplished through the creation of a three-dimensional lattice or skeleton, upon which a formable matrix material may be applied and painted or otherwise decorated to achieve a desired appearance. Typically, the three-dimensional latticework will consist of wire lattice manually bent into specific geometric shapes. The manual techniques described can only approximate the wire geometries of angles, lengths and contortions. Furthermore, these techniques can be very labor intensive, time consuming, inaccurate and expensive.

Furthermore, existing manual techniques can be limited in that they limit the ability to effectively scale up or otherwise reproduce existing models without subjectivity. Essentially, the creation of the necessary three-dimensional structures is more art tan science.

It is therefore desirable to provide a new process to efficiently realize three-dimensional theming using scalable, digital information that may be translated into various digital formats. This digital information may be captured from sketches, photographs, three-dimensional models, and other suitable means. It is also desirable to provide a process for incremental design and assembly of artificial thematic elements.

SUMMARY

The present invention provides a method of fabricating a thematic design article.

A method in accordance with the invention includes the step of formulating, from a three-dimensional computer model of the article, design parameters for panel elements of the article. Panel elements may be defined as rectilinear or organic shapes comprised of horizontal and vertical bent wire components that integrate together to form a thematic article or design element. These panels can be designed in various dimensions but will always be a representation of the digitally created thematic article or design element. These design elements may include, for example, dimensions of the panel elements and the size and material composition of the components of the panel element (e.g., the gauge and composition of wire). The method further includes the step of controlling a wire bending device responsive to the design parameters to form a panelized element. In one embodiment of the invention, this step includes the sub-steps of bending a first continuous wire to form a horizontal panel sub-element, bending a second continuous wire to form a vertical panel sub-element and joining the horizontal and vertical panel sub-elements to form the first panel element. A second embodiment of the invention illustrates individual horizontal, vertical, and auxiliary bent wire lengths that integrate accordingly to form a single panel of an element.

In another embodiment of the invention, there is provided a method of fabricating a thematic design article, comprising the steps of: formulating from a three-dimensional computer model of the article, design parameters for panel elements of the article; and, controlling a wire bending device responsive to the design parameters to form the panel elements, wherein the panel elements are comprised of horizontal and vertical sub-elements selected from the group consisting of continuous sub-panels, linear cut to form sub-panels, and a combination thereof.

In another embodiment of the invention, there is provided a method of fabricating a thematic design article comprising the steps of: formulating from a computer model parameters of a three-dimensional article, wherein the parameters comprise horizontal, vertical, and otherwise intersecting elements of a surface; creating an instruction set from the parameters and intersecting elements of a three-dimensional representation of the three-dimensional article whereby a computer numerical controlled wire bending apparatus forms the intersecting elements; integrating the intersecting elements to form a panel section; assembling a multitude of similarly fabricated panel sections to form an accurate shape of the three dimensional article; and, processing the panel sections and applying a matrix material to the assembled panel sections.

The inventive method overcomes the drawbacks and deficiencies of the aforementioned theming techniques by providing a process for design and assembly of artificial thematic elements. Specifically, the invention discloses a novel method by which one may create a three-dimensional support structure faux theming that is accurate, scalable and highly reproducible with substantially decreased manufacturing and assembly costs.

The features, functions, and advantages that have been discussed can be achieved independently in various embodiments of the disclosure or may be combined in yet other embodiments further details of which can be seen with reference to the following description and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The disclosure can be better understood with reference to the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings which illustrate preferred and exemplary embodiments, but which are not necessarily drawn to scale, wherein:

FIG. 1A is a schematic flow diagram of one of the embodiments of the method showing the design process;

FIG. 1B is a schematic flow diagram of one of the embodiments of the method showing the fabrication process;

FIG. 2 shows a stage of the wire panel creation in the assembly of the final thematic article for one of the embodiments of the method;

FIG. 3 shows another stage of the wire panel creation in the assembly of the final thematic article for one of the embodiments of the method;

FIG. 4 shows another stage of the wire panel creation in the assembly of the final thematic article for one of the embodiments of the method;

FIG. 5 shows another stage of the wire panel creation in the assembly of the final thematic article for one of the embodiments of the method;

FIG. 6A shows a stage of the wire panel creation in the assembly of the final thematic article for another one of the embodiments of the method;

FIG. 6B shows a stage of the wire panel creation in the assembly of the final thematic article for another one of the embodiments of the method;

FIG. 7 shows another stage of the wire panel creation in the assembly of the final thematic article for another one of the embodiments of the method; and,

FIG. 8 is a schematic flow diagram of another one of the embodiments of the method.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

While the invention is susceptible of embodiments in many different forms, there is shown in the drawings and will herein be described in detail, preferred embodiments of the invention with the understanding that the disclosure is to be considered as an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the broad aspects of the invention to the illustrated embodiments.

Referring now to FIGS. 1A and 1B, one of the embodiments of a method 10 in accordance with the invention will be described and illustrated. FIG. 1A shows a schematic flow chart of the method 10, and in particular, shows the design process. FIG. 1B shows a schematic flow chart of the method 10, and in particular, shows the fabrication process. The inventive method 10 may begin with step 12 for forming a three-dimensional computer model of the thematic design article. Step 12 may include several sub-steps including sub-step 14 of preparing a scale model of the article that may comprise a hand-drawn sketch, a three-dimensional physical model, a two-dimensional or three-dimensional representation stored in an electronic medium or file, or another suitable scale model. An electronic medium may comprise computer a hard drive, a flash drive, a portable drive, a compact disk, a digital video disk, a floppy disk, a tape back-up or another suitable electronic medium, Step 12 may further include sub-step 18 of obtaining information from the scale model of step 14 for use in forming the computer model of the thematic design article. Such information may include without limitation, footprint information such as size, shape, and dimensions, volume information such as space and overall mass, and surface texture information, such as overall aesthetics and feel. For a physical model 16, sub-step 18 may include the sub-step 20 of scanning the element or physical model using conventional scanning techniques and the sub-step 24 of point cloud rectification for obtaining and rectifying pilot cloud data 22 from the scanning sub-step 20. Scanning techniques may include photo optical scanning, three-dimensional photo optical scanning, photogammetry, remote sensing technology, and other scanning techniques. For purposes of this application, the term “rectifying point cloud data” means the cleaning, filtering, and organizing of point data that lie in three-dimensional space, in order to assemble a three-dimensional model that can be manipulated on a three-dimensional platform. For a sketch, picture, or two-dimensional or three-dimensional electronic representation 26 (collectively), sub-step 18 may include sub-step 28 of surface model creation for creating a new three-dimensional surface model 30. Step 12 may further include sub-step 32 of creating the three-dimensional computer model or representation responsive to the information obtained in sub-step 18 or sub-step 28. Sub-step 32 may include conventional sub-step 34 of polygon rectification, whereby incomplete elements of the computer model are caused to be bounded or otherwise closed to create a complete model, and sub-step 38 of importing a resolved surface model 36 into a computer-aided design (“CAD”) environment to form the three-dimensional model of the thematic design article. CAD is preferred because a CAD model may exist in multiple formats from multiple platforms. A “surface model” for purposes of this application means a model that consists of zero thickness geometry that is a true representation of an element that has no weight or volume.

The inventive method may continue with step 40 of formulating, from the three-dimensional computer model of the thematic design article, design parameters for panel elements of the article. Step 40 may include, for example, sub-step 42 of volume study for determining a volume or space of the thematic design article. Step 40 may further include sub-step 44 of material requirements for identifying material requirements for various components of the panel elements including, for example, the gauge of wire used in forming the panel elements and the material composition of the wire which may be determined, in part, in response to the volume of the article and anticipated loading. The gauge of wire used in forming the panel elements is preferably from about 6.35 mm (millimeters) to about 12 mm in diameter. However, other suitable gauges may be used. Preferably, the wire may be made of materials such as stainless steel, mild steel with zinc coating, metal, or other suitable materials. Step 40 may further include sub-step 46 of panelization design process. Step 40 may further include sub-step 48 of identifying primary structure or structural requirements 50 and identifying secondary structure or structural requirements 52. Structural requirements may be determined by environment, structural codes, local regulations, seismic conditions, wind load conditions, or other structural requirements. Referring to FIG. 1B, step 40 further includes sub-step 54 of wire panel design. Such wire panel design may be of a continuous quadrant design as shown in FIG. 2, or may be of a non-continuous vertical and horizontal bars design as shown in FIGS. 6A and 6B. However, other suitable wire panel designs may also be used. Step 40 may further include sub-step 56 of identifying dimensions and other parameters associated with the panel elements themselves. In this manner, the article may be broken down into panel elements of a size desirable for machine workability, transportation, and ease of assembly. Preferred panel size may be 2 meters high by 2 meters wide by 1 meter in depth. However, other suitable panel sizes may also be used. Referring to FIG. 1B, in one embodiment, sub-step 56 defines parameters associated with designing a vertical wire panel 58 sub-element for each panel element and with designing a horizontal wire panel 60 sub-element for each panel element. Sub-step 56 proceeds to digital output to automated wire bender 62. Vertical and horizontal wires may be formed and assembled to meet at specific intersections.

The method 10 may further include step 64 of controlling a wire bending device responsive to the design parameters to form the various panel elements. The wire bending device may comprise any suitable wire bending device. For example, the AIM Wire Bender wire bending device from Automated Industrial Machinery of Addison, Ill. may be used. The design parameters for the panel elements may be translated into coded commands for a computer numerical controlled (“CNC”) multi-axis wire bending device, which can then form each individual panel element or section. Final assembly of the pre-fabricated panel elements or sections is therefore substantially less labor intensive than manually building the desired article from scratch, with the added benefit of heretofore un-achievable design faithfulness and reproducibility.

Referring now to FIG. 1B, in one embodiment of the invention, step 64 may include several sub-steps. In particular, step 64 may include sub-step 66 of fabricate horizontal components for fabricating horizontal components such as bars, quadrants, or other components, with wires. Step 64 may further include sub-step 68 of fabricate vertical components for fabricating vertical components such as bars, quadrants, or other components, with wires. Step 64 comprises bending continuous wires (e.g., in a back and forth manner) or segmented wires (i.e., a linear, cut to form manner) to form a horizontal panel sub-element and a vertical panel sub-element. Based on the computer model, instructions for forming a vertical and horizontal panel sub-element may be passed to a CNC multi-axis wire bending device. Specific to continuous bending, the first wire may proceed substantially in one direction to form one of the panel sub-elements, while the second wire element proceeds in a perpendicular or otherwise intersecting direction to form the other panel sub-element. Specific to linear, cut to form non-continuous bending, horizontal and vertical sub-elements may be bent and cut accordingly to the computer generated data. In each case, the separate sub-elements may then be overlaid to form a unitary panel element. Step 64 may further include sub-step 70 of integrate horizontal and vertical wire components for integrating or joining the horizontal and vertical panel sub-elements to form a panel element. For example, when the wire panel design step 54 is used to design quadrants, a panel element 100 having four quadrants 102 can be produced, as shown in FIG. 2. For example, when the wire panel design step 54 is used to design bars, a panel element 200 with vertical components or bars 202 can be produced, as shown in FIG. 6A, and a panel element 204 with horizontal components or bars 206, can be produced as shown in FIG. 6B. The inventive method 10 may further include step 74 of lath application of applying malleable lath 74 or other formable matrix or substrate material (e.g., polymer sheeting or cement) to the panel element by overlaying the material upon the wire grid forming the panel element to create the desired surface characteristics and form, for example, in one embodiment, a layered panel element or section 106 as shown in FIG. 4. Suitable laths may include metal diamond lath with three inch spacing, polyvinylchloride lath, and other suitable laths. Suitable matrix or substrate materials may include without limitation, polyvinylchloride, polyethylene, and other suitable materials. Referring to FIG. 5, paint or other design elements can then be applied to the surface of the panel element to form a finished panel element or section 108. The inventive method further includes step 78 of wire web panel creation of assembling a plurality of panel elements into, for example, in one embodiment, a panel 104, such as shown in FIG. 3. Although FIGS. 1B and 3-4 illustrate step 78 as occurring subsequent to step 74, it should be understood that step 78 could also occur prior to step 74. Finally, the inventive method may further include step 80 of identify wire web panels per panelization design process of identifying and later connecting multiple panels or sections to form the thematic design article. Each panel, being custom formed, is assignable to a specific location and orientation within the desired final article.

FIGS. 2-5 show one embodiment of the panel element formed by the disclosed method. FIG. 2 shows a stage of a wire panel element 100 creation in the assembly of the final thematic article for one of the embodiments of the method. Panel element 100 shows quadrants 102. FIG. 3 shows another stage of a wire panel element 104 creation in the assembly of the final thematic article for one of the embodiments of the method. In this stage, the assembly of the plurality of panel elements or quadrants 102 into wire panel element 104 takes place. FIG. 4 shows another stage of a wire panel element 106 creation in the assembly of the final thematic article for one of the embodiments of the method. Overlaying material, as discussed above, upon the wire grid forming the panel element creates the desired surface characteristics and forms the layered panel element or section 106 as shown in FIG. 4. Surface characteristics may include without limitation, characteristics such as cracks, depressions, shelves, points, holes, caves, lightbox framing, speaker framing, stairs, walls, rock forms, character forms, sculpted free forms, and other suitable characteristics. FIG. 5 shows another stage of a wire panel creation 108 in the assembly of the final thematic article for one of the embodiments of the method. Paint or other design elements can be applied to the surface of the panel element to form the finished panel element or section 108, as shown in FIG. 5. Suitable design elements may include without limitation, such elements as acid stain, moss, sand, small pebbles, large rocks, and other suitable elements.

FIGS. 6A, 6B, and 7 show another embodiment of the panel element formed by the disclosed method. FIG. 6A shows a stage of a wire panel element 200 creation in the assembly of the final thematic article for another one of the embodiments of the method. FIG. 6B shows a stage of a wire panel element 204 creation in the assembly of the final thematic article for another one of the embodiments of the method. The panel element 200 with vertical components or bars 202 can be produced as shown in FIG. 6A, and the panel element 204 with horizontal components or bars 206, can be produced as shown in FIG. 6B. FIG. 7 shows another stage of a wire panel element 208 creation in the assembly of the final thematic article for another one of the embodiments of the method. The panel element 208 is a combination of wire panel elements 200 and 204. The panel element 208 of FIG. 7 can also have overlaying material, as discussed above, placed upon the wire grid forming the panel element to form a layered panel element or section similar to the one shown in FIG. 4. Paint or other design elements can then be applied to the surface of the panel element to form a finished panel element or section similar to the one shown in FIG. 5.

Referring now to FIG. 8, FIG. 8 is a schematic flow diagram of another one of the embodiments of the method. In this embodiment of method 300, the method comprises the steps of step 302 of formulating from a computer model design parameters/intersecting elements of a three-dimensional article, step 304 of creating an instruction set from the parameters/intersecting elements, step 306 of using CNC (computer numerical controlled) wire bending device to form the intersecting elements, step 308 of integrating the intersecting elements to form a panel section, step 310 of assembling panel sections to form a three-dimensional article, and step 312 of processing and finishing the panel sections.

In one of the embodiments of the method, there is provided a method of fabricating a thematic design article. The method comprises the step of formulating from a three-dimensional computer model of the article, design parameters for panel elements of the article. The formulating step may include the sub-step of identifying a gauge for a wire. The formulating step may further include the sub-step of identifying a material composition for a wire. The formulating step may further include the sub-step of determining a volume of the article. The method may further comprise the step of controlling a wire bending device responsive to the design parameters to form the panel elements. The panel elements may be comprised of horizontal and vertical sub-elements comprising continuous sub-panels, linear cut to form sub-panels, or a combination thereof. The controlling step may include the sub-steps of bending a first continuous wire to form a horizontal panel sub-element, bending a second continuous wire to form a vertical panel sub-element, and joining the horizontal and vertical panel sub-elements to form the panel element. The controlling step may further include the sub-steps of bending linear, cut to form wire to form a horizontal panel sub-element, bending linear, cut to form wire to form a vertical panel sub-element, and joining the horizontal and vertical panel sub-elements to form the panel element. The method may further comprise the step of assembling a plurality of the panel elements into a first panel section. The method may further comprise the step of connecting the first panel section to a second panel section. The method may further comprise the step of assembling a plurality of the panel elements into a first panel section of horizontally bent wire. The method may further comprise the step of assembling a plurality of the panel elements into a second panel section of vertically bent wire. The method may further comprise the step of applying a matrix material to the first panel section and to other panel sections. The method may further comprise the step of applying paint or other design elements to the first panel section and to other panel sections.

The final thematic design articles that may be formed by the embodiments of the method of the invention may include boats, trees, roots, buildings, caves, mountains7 rocks, waterfalls, pools, ponds, rivers, streams, characters, free form sculptures, nature scenery, and other suitable design articles.

A method in accordance with the invention represents a significant improvement over conventional methods for forming thematic design articles. The inventive method is less labor intensive than prior methods that require manual formation of the wire grid for the article. The method is also much more precise in recreating the article as designed. The methodology is accurate, scalable and highly reproducible leading to improved designs at a lower cost.

Many modifications and other embodiments of the disclosure will come to mind to one skilled in the art to which this disclosure pertains having the benefit of the teachings presented in the foregoing descriptions and the associated drawings. The embodiments described herein are meant to be illustrative and are not intended to be limiting. Although specific terms are employed herein, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation.