We quickly decided on using the hot knife cutting tool as it seemed the one that offered the most possibilities for now. We have a large stock of blue foam perfect for this task, so we had a go at seeing how quick the process is and some carvings, by hand. Very imprecise work.
Some basic things that could be achieved are pixelated artwork, for example. Using Grasshopper, a high contrast image was used as input, that would generate a series of point with assigned parameters (for those who don’t know, Grasshopper is a Rhino pug-in that facilitates producing codes for parametric design). For this examples, the darker the point the deeper the incision made with the hot knife would be. The speed is constant and optimised for the material.
Extrapolating the idea of the points/ incisions, we started looking at carving out cones. That would allow us to modify many more parameters and hopefully achieve some interesting effects. The intention is to vary the amplitude, depth, tilt, and rotation of the cones and try and create a light filtering device. The larger the cone and the opening, the more light it captures and allows to pass through, and the opposite for less bright effects.
Preliminary tests were encouraging. At the moment, we are calibrating the process. More to follow.