Friday, January 29, 2010

Museum Exhibit Design Toolkit: An Erector Set for Grownups

Here's a quick one to explore:

80/20 Inc. is a company that sells aluminum T-slotted framing that they call "The Industrial Erector Set."

And just like an erector set, the 80/20 pieces let you quickly put together 3-D realizations of your exhibit designs. Since the T-slotted framing sections assemble quickly, changes are much easier to make than welded frames, so the system is also great for playing around with physical prototypes.

Check out the 80/20 website for images of project examples!

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  1. In addition to 8020 I have used a couple of different modular structure systems: ITEM, ( and was a designer/builder of Flexlink products ( Detroit for a number of years. Each system has its own merits and unique components, such as offering conveyor systems or ball-screw devices. (Of course none are cross compatible with any other system)

    From my experience, none have come close to 8020 on either pricing or speed of delivery. They also provide some decent free 3D design software that automatically generates BOMs that can be extremely helpful, especially if you are going to have 8020 perform special machining operations for the beam to accommodate certain fasteners. 8020 will even anodize your components after they have been processed (by them) for what I found to be a reasonable fee.

    I find this article from MAKE Magazine extremely interesting: It introduces a new system of small extrusions, as well as a proposed open-source system that is trying to get some support. Anyone out there tried the MicroRAX system yet?

  2. This system seems to be as intuitive as possible to use. I have not used a modular construction system before but can see the potential. Troubleshooting concepts could be done as you build if necessary instead of re-designing in the shop. I wonder about the load bearing strength of these structures.