Friday, February 11, 2011

The Rockite Paradox

Everything started well. At a small scale, Rockite will do whatever you tell it to.

Pour out as thin as paper? Keep any shape you put in the form? Create cool effects depending on what items you throw into the mix?


The problem with Rockite arises when increasing in size: Scaling up dimensions exponentially scales up weight, without necessarily scaling up its strength. Especially in tension (there's a reason buildings use steel rods for strength in tension), and when there are weak points in the single massive form.

So through trial and error, I found the best way to make thin panels of Rockite is to make it as even as possible (ridges put the Rockite in tension and shatter) while integrating a structural element or grid into it.

With bubble wrap.

This allowed me to create 12"x24" panels that were translucent in parts due to the moments where they were thinner than paper. Even the thickest part of the panel wasn't larger than 1/4". And due to their cellular structure, they didn't break.

...For the most part.

Simply put, concrete has a very particular bias against being thin, lightweight, and panel-like. Even with constant testing and finding a method that worked more often than not, concrete has a certain wish to be purely a compressive material. Preferably a single piece in compression without weak points...

Still to be uploaded: A picture of the finished frame in the window.

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