Autodesk makes software for people who make things. If you've ever driven a high-performance car, admired a towering skyscraper, used a smartphone, or watched a great film, chances are you've experienced what millions of Autodesk customers are doing with our software. Autodesk gives you the power to make anything, but some segments of the general public are not yet aware of that.
The Autodesk Gallery at One Market in San Francisco celebrates design — the process of taking a great idea and turning it into a reality. With about 60 different exhibits regularly on display that showcase the innovative work of Autodesk customers, the gallery illustrates the role technology plays in great design and engineering. Autodesk Gallery Ambassadors conduct gallery tours as a sideline to their day jobs.
The LEGOLAND Mega Model exhibit is probably the most popular exhibit that you can see on the 2nd floor of our One Market office in San Francisco:
- LEGO // more
- Genus: Parasaurolophus // more
- Species: Cyrtocristatus
- Nickname: Duckbilled Dinosaur
It's definitely for kids, but its creation sure isn't kid stuff. Awe-inspiring models like this dinosaur are exhibited at LEGO theme parks, retail locations, and special events worldwide. They look like a lot of fun, but creating them requires advanced degrees, cutting-edge technology, and detailed engineering analysis. Using a combination of 3D modeling and their own proprietary software, LEGO master builders explore different design concepts using 3D modeling software before constructing piece-by-piece virtual versions of the large-scale creations. By constructing digital prototypes of its exhibits, LEGO can assess ideas for structural feasibility, create realistic construction schematics, and move easily into fabrication.
The LEGO company was founded in 1932 by Danish carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen, a carpenter who had a sideline in wooden toys. He named the company after an amalgamation of the Danish phrase "leg godt," which means "play well." Designed at LEGO headquarters in Billund, Denmark, and fabricated at a LEGO plant in the Czech Republic, the Autodesk Gallery dinosaur is a replica of the model found at the LEGOLAND theme park in Carlsbad, California. Each year, LEGOLAND theme parks are visited by approximately 5.5 million people who come to admire and play in the world of LEGO. This exhibit, a combination of software technology and human talent, is the embodiment of playing well.
As an Autodesk customer, LEGO describes how they make their exhibits using a 4-stage process:
1. LEGO uses Autodesk Maya, software typically used for video game character design, to define an organic shape, such as a dinosaur. The result is saved as a Maya file.
2. LEGO has its own digital design program that, given a Maya file, makes the conversion to how many and what color bricks are needed. The program also generates a set of assembly instructions. Given that the exhibit will need to be safe, LEGO uses AutoCAD to design a steel frame made of 2-inch tube steel to anchor the exhibit in place.
3. By following the assembly instructions, humans put the exhibit together piece-by-piece around the steel frame. The pieces are fused with a glue that actually melts the plastic to create a plastic-to-plastic bond. The Parasaurolophus dinosaur in the Autodesk Gallery has 62,500 pieces, measuring 8'-6" tall.
4. The exhibit is shrinkwrapped and shipped to the desired location for installation. The base of the steel frame is cemented into place.
Many Autodesk customers tell the tale of how they started out with LEGO bricks. It's wondrous how a children's toys is really a means for architects and engineers in the making.
Thanks to the Autodesk Gallery team for the descriptive text for this blog post.
Autodesk has always been an automation company, and today more than ever that means helping people make more things, better things, with less; more and better in terms of increasing efficiency, performance, quality, and innovation; less in terms of time, resources, and negative impacts (e.g., social, environmental). Autodesk gallery exhibits are fine examples of customers doing just that.
The Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco is open to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. There is a guided tour on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm and a self-guided audio tour available anytime. Admission is free. Visit us.
Plastic paleontology is alive in the lab.