Geodesic Dome Construction Kit

Photo of John Burch, Brett Cathcart, Phillip Glass Students: John Burch, Brett Cathcart, Phillip Glass

Sponsor: The University of Texas at Austin

Date: Fall 2010

The joint fabricator must fully compress and bend metal EMT conduit, which is the material for the dome joints. The device should be lightweight (less than 100 lbs), easy to ship, and cost less than $1000 . The transportation and storage solution should cost less than $100 , should be easy to lift and easy to transport, should have a small footprint in storage, and must be durable.

The central objective of this project was to develop a device that could quickly and accurately reproduce the metal joints in a re-constructible geodesic dome kit. The existing dome kit is one of a kind. The joint fabrication device will be used to re-create the parts so that more geodesic dome kits can be created for use around the country. Other objectives for this project included developing a transportation and storage system for the existing kit, as well as improving other aspects of the dome to increase its durability or ease of use.

The final solution for reproducer consists of a hydraulic jack as a force applicator combined with metal plates to shape the joint components. The jack transfers force to a moving metal plate that compresses two lengths of EMT conduit at one time. While the conduit is still locked in place by the jack, the user inserts a lever arm into the free end of the EMT and bends upward until the EMT contacts the bend guide. The bend guides are adjustable to account for variations in elastic springback in different types of materials. The transportation and storage system consists of a dolly and several bins to contain the pieces of a dome kit. The separate bins allow the different types of components to be lifted separately. The dome improvements included altering the connection between the PVC struts and the PVC connector in the dome kit. Customer interviews lead us to enlarge the connection hole to improve assemblability. The team recommends using Krylon Fusion paint as an alternative to electric tape for the color coding schematic. Testing of the hardened paint on PVC indicates that it is more durable than the existing solution

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