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Probe scanning uses a probe to trace the contours of an object. The probe then moves on a fraction of a millimeter and records another contour. If the original sculpture was not cut into sections then the probe and the laser would not be able to scan around the wings. The areas where other bits of sculpture are in the way are termed "under-cuts".

scan scan

The wings have been probe scanned by Renishaw Here the probe scanner can be seen scanning both sides of the wings.


Here is an image of the data collected for the wings and also a rendered image of the part.

render render


Components are scanned on 4 sides and then the final images are joined together. These will be used directly to programme "cutter-paths" for CNC (Computer Numerate Controlled) 3-axis milling machines. These machines are automated "drills" with coarse and fine heads that move 1) up/down, 2) back/forward, 3) left/right. Some machines require the scanned data to be turned into special surfaces before "cutter-paths" can be programmed. The material being used in the project is a dense fibre called Cibatool BM 5120 that is manufactured by Ciba Speciality Chemicals.

The wings were made by Intercraft Engineering Ltd.

manufacture manufacture

Test runs for the machining paths were made at 1:1 scale. The parts were then turned over, suspended in a Ciba polyeurothane fast cast (Ureol 5200) and machined on the reverse side. This was a test to see if this could be done on a larger scale, with expanding foam.

manufacture manufacture

Cibaboard was stuck together by Gwyneth and Anthony using Ciba glue (XT4565) and machining begun at 1:6 scale. Intercraft Engineering have some of the largest machines in the UK and this capacity was needed to machine the wings.

manufacture manufacture

Expanding foam was used to fill the machined side of the board. The board was turned over and the reverse side was machined. The final parts were broken out from te board and the foam cleaned off.

Finished Parts

finished The final sections are about 140 x 50 x 20 centimetres.

Andrew Buffey and Russel Foster are seen here with both wings.

Probe Scanning Materials for Machining Machining

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