The main purpose of my Solidworks CAD was to help with scale and how it is put together over the aesthetics, although they are also important. In this blog post I explain how my model goes together and how this may change in an industrial manufacture setting. However, it is important to remember that my product is not mass or even batch. It would be a spectacle piece to demonstrate the aesthetics and material properties of plant-based alternatives to leather and therefore it is not too important if the process is not efficient enough for a number of pieces as there would likely only be one.
I have two materials for leather alternatives, the cork material for the calf and the homemade cardboard leather alternative for the mother cow. I purchased a thin piece of cork sheet and some self-adhesive sheets to use as the upholstery material. For the cardboard leather, I made this myself using a method that requires massaging the cork in a natural oil. For this method I chose coconut oil as it has a distinctive smell that a user can instantly identify as coconut (plant). I both melted melted and used solid pieces of coconut oil until the cardboard has lost its rigidity and began scrunching and distressing it to give a 'worn' leather aesthetic. I loved this look for the mother cow as it signifies that the leather has aged. I made lots of small piece and sewed them together using a wide zig-zag as a normal stitch was too close and cut the pieces.
For the cork body, I used sheets of 18mm cork and glued them up to form a solid shape, while making the shape of the extruded rectangle inside. To create the organic shape I rasped and sanded down the shape, as I wasn't able to cut it at that size on the band-saw. In a more industrial environment, I would have purchased one block of cork and extruded it from the size to create the shape I wanted and extrude cut centre for the wooden base. If it was not possible to do this in one piece, another solution I thought of was dividing the body in half and extruding the centre out of the bottom half. Then, the two pieces could be stuck back together to create the full shape. It wouldn't matter if this ruined the corks aesthetic as the upholstered leather would hide any imperfections.
I made the base from a thick, 15mm piece of plywood to ensure strength and be thick enough for the screws to fit into without protruding into the cork. I screwed 2.5,, holes for the 3mm screws and 10mm wholes for the M8 metal dowels to leave enough room. This could be easily CNC-ed in an industrial environment and drilled.
screws, mounting plates and metal dowels
I purchased all of these pieces online as they are well recognised upholstery features and would be easily available in an industrial environment.
This project was a way I wanted to learn how to lathe and have some practice so all the lathes were hand-lathed in a pine as softwood is easier to practice on. In an ideal world, I would have liked to make these out of a hard wood such as oak but I needed to practice first to gain confidence on the lathe. These could be easier CNC lathed in manufacture.
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