Swimming success

A whale design out of Cape Town’s FabLab has wooed the crowds and impressed the judges at an international FabLab conference in Amsterdam.

The Southern Right Whale is a popular and celebrated part of South Africa’s fauna. And it inspired three Cape Town FabLab creatives to create a design that outswum the competition at Fab6, the sixth international FabLab conference recently held in Amsterdam.

FabLabs are open source, assisted DIY, computer-aided design and manufacturing environments with the objective to facilitate the development of ideas into prototypes.

The “Southern Right Vessel” was designed and fabricated by Pieter Cilliers, David van Staden and Ridhaa Rinquest for the 2010 competition, themed [r]Evolution. The theme explored the implications and consequences of digital fabrication for art, business, industry, culture and education.

Entries had to be water-worthy and rely on at least two FabLab processes for its construction. Southern Right Vessel is a 90cm long vessel, similar in shape to that of a whale, designed on the FabLab computers and then cut from acrylic sheeting on a laser cutter. To allow flexibility and easier transportation, the acrylic pieces were joined using separated strands of box-binding straps. The tail was also woven from this material.

In order for the whale to “swim”, long balloons were threaded through holes in the vertical pieces and then inflated to the desired length. Multiple balloons were used to ensure stability in the water,  a whale of a time!