Remember that trip to the local hobby store to buy the latest Revell airplane or race car modeling kit? This often engaging activity for kids and hobbyists alike is an essential job practice for Hollywood prop modelers needing parts for their intricately designed space ships and vehicles. Known as kit bashing (or "greebling"), motion-picture prop artists salvage small plastic parts from store-bought modeling kits to provide industrial authenticity to their imaginative designs. Having these pre-made parts at their disposal enables artists to quickly incorporate added detail into their concepts, allowing them to make deadlines while staying under budget. The iconic space ships, robots, and vehicles we are familiar with in classic Hollywood films such Stars Wars and 2001: A Space Odyssey have kit-bashed components born out of this artistic ingenuity.
While this assemblage technique is still in use today a new era of digital kit bashing has emerged, that when combined with 3D printing, could revolutionize industrial design for advanced manufacturing. Leading the way is Vitaly Bulgarov, an experienced Hollywood artist who has worked for Industrial Light and Magic, and now creates designs for the medical manufacturing industry. Vitaly has opened an online digital kit-bash store which offers an array of mechanical parts that can be imported into modeling software, providing novices and trained veterans an efficient way to create very detailed vehicles, robots and mechanical devices. Vitaly's store front is a testament to the beauty of machines. Row after row, it's a marvel to see the aesthetic detail and craftsmanship Vitaly has bestowed on each part. Continued perusing begs creative-minded machinists and designers to bring Vitaly's virtual creations to life through 3D printing.
Initially, conceived as a personal project, Vitaly now sees greater potential in selling his digital parts to a wider audience – enabling other modelers, industrial designers, and engineers to work more efficiently and broaden the spectrum of creative possibilities. As additive printing rises in popularity, supply chain bottlenecks will diminish, and the biggest barrier to production could begin at the conception stages with designers struggling to develop new ideas as they eagerly try to take advantage of the additive technology. Vitaly's palette of parts is the cure for this "designer's block" enabling artists to conceptualize more ideas at a faster rate. His catalog of configurable parts is just the beginning as software companies such as Pixologic and Luxology are starting to incorporate kit bashable parts into their applications as well. Pixologic has jumped onto the kit bashing band wagon with ZBrush's new insert multi-mesh brushes, allowing artists to create whole factories in a short amount of time. Luxology sells a "model bashing kit" that allows modelers to rapidly develop cockpit interiors and instrumentation panels in days rather than weeks.
The industry that could benefit the most from this parts library is manufacturing, allowing engineers to streamline processes and run simulations on new designs for maximum efficiency without being held-up with lengthy CAD development. Manufacturers who have the ingenuity to couple kit bashing with additive printing will effectively save material and labor costs by increasing efficiency at both the initial planning and final fabrication stages.
In a vision to help the manufacturing industry take advantage of a streamlined design pipeline, Vitaly is imagining a series of CAD-based kit bash sets that would incorporate common real-world parts enabling both manufacturers and grass-root makers to broaden their design capabilities. This approach will bring more creativity to the manufacturing world and allow for the accelerated development of new products while taking the complexity out of complex assemblies. Indeed, Vitaly's kit bash store opens up the imagination, inviting anyone to become a designer/engineer while creating a new workflow for 3D printing.
To view Vitaly's work and see how he used the kits to create his own sci-fi robotic designs, visit http://bulgarov.com/blackphoenixproject.html