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How to model the Olympic Sun Sculpture

Wednesday August 17, 2016 at 9:20am
Discover how to model the Olympic Sun Sculpture in SOLIDWORKS, with our Elite Applications Engineer Gordon Stewart!

How to Model the Olympic Sun Sculpture    


The Olympics have started and we all saw the beautiful Olympic Sun Sculpture that formed the backdrop to the Olympic flame. It’s an elegant design and I immediately thought how easy it would be to model up in SOLIDWORKS. It’s all fairly standard features, the only tricky bit is mating up the assembly to give motion to this kinetic sculpture. So let’s get started!


Step 1: Draw The ‘Ring’ part. This gives the sculpture its basic size. Start by drawing a 30-sided polygon on the front face. I am not trying to make this full scale so I set the length of one of the edged to 250mm. To complete the part just turn this into a circular profile sweep. A great new feature that came in 2016. I set the diameter of the sweep to 70mm.

  Step 2: Create a ‘star’ element. This is a little bit trickier, but still we can just use essential commands. I started with an Axis from the Front and Top planes. This Axis was then used to generate an angled plane 6 degrees from the front plane. Onto that plane I drew a Guide Sketch:

This ensures that I can get my star to fit nicely onto the ring.

WHY? Why did I make the angled plane? The answer comes later. Read on!

Step 3: Create the central bobbin section.

Sizes aren’t too critical here, just go with what you like.


Step 4: The Spoke. All sketches need to be on the new angled plane. The spoke first. Again I made use of the new Circular sweep to make this from a single line.

Just don’t make it too long. The Guide Sketch helps here. Next comes the Balls.

I tried to keep the spacing fairly even and also inside the guide. Finally we add the end disc.

I ensured that it didn’t go beyond the end of the guide curve, but that it was still a good size. This is more art than science, so go with what looks good.

Step 5: Rotate and configure. This part need 4 spokes, so a simple circular pattern is fine here. We also want to create versions of the part that is rotated in 6 degree increments. Once the circular pattern is in place, right click on the angled plane and choose Configure Feature. This brings up a table:

We want to create 15 configurations and set the angles for those in 6 degree increments. If only we could sort configurations numerically! (Those looking at 2017 Beta will see that this is coming! Happy days!) So why do this? Surely we could use mates in the assembly? Well, we could, but it is a little tricky and you end up having to create lots of mates. We will see how many I need using this method.


Step 6: Build the Assembly. Place the Ring part at the Origin. Add the First Star and mate the Right Planes to each other and make it concentric about the ring segment. (Remember you can use Sketch segments for this if necessary.)

  Step 7: The first pattern Now we just need to pattern the stars to create half the finished part. Here we create an axis from the Right and Top planes. We need 15 at 12 degree increments.

Once in place, change the configurations of the instances so that they step through the angular steps.


Step 8: The final pattern To end the modelling, just do a final circular pattern, 2 instances equally spaced and there you have it:

What I really like about this is the elegant complex movement. So how many mates are in this complex kinetic sculpture? TWO!  


Conclusion/Medal Ceremony

So there we have it the Olympic Sun Sculpture. Play around with the sizes and see what you can create. What if you had fewer spokes? More Stars? Let’s see if we can use Visualize Professional to create some stunning images of this iconic design. Now go and support your athletes as they follow the Olympic ideal and strive to make us proud and show how sport brings people together in these ever fractious times.

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