Industrial designer Arthur Sacek has an unusual blend of specialities: Product design, LEGO, computer graphics and digital fabrication. A current project of his, the Lego Pinpoint Animator, is a good example of how this cocktail of skills manifests itself in the form of an innovative tool.
Sacek's device is largely built of Lego, and uses a CNC-manipulated robotic arm and finger to manipulate a series of pins held within a frame. The pins essentially become 3D pixels, producing an image that is then snapped by a camera. The arm then takes another pass, altering the pin-image slightly, whereupon another photo is snapped. Rinse-and-repeat, until the machine has created a stop-motion animation:
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It's not fast, but it is cool. "To create one frame the robot takes 30 minutes," Sacek explains. "To create this animation, the robot worked for two days."
Sacek is the Director of Research & Development at the Brazilian branch of Zoom Educational Publisher, a Lego partner organization dedicated to promoting Lego education. In a sense, he's returning a favor: During his own youth a Lego Robotics Lab was installed in his school, exposing him early on to the joy of building. Coupled with a later job working for a company that developed lab equipment, Sacek "concluded that my wish was to study Industrial Design and become a toy designer."