What we did

We started by taking a comprehensive brief from our client, which established the parameters of the job.
Such things as quantity, size, material, look and timing were discussed.
Basic artwork was supplied, which we then needed to distort, so when stretched over the bell shaped tool it would come back to looking like our client expected.
Material had to be produced to our specification, so it could be both illuminated, and survive in the outdoor environment.


Original green art


3D Bell Moulding & Red Bell art distorted 


Bells as supplied


How we did it

The first step was for our designers to model the bell shape in 3D so an accurate tool could be made.
Next a timber block was assembled by our pattern maker. Then the block was 5 axis CNC machined to the final shape using the 3D file generated earlier.
A sample forming was taken from the wooden pattern, and provided to our client for approval.
Once approved, the sample was used to pour an aluminium filled epoxy tool for the final production.

As the tooling was being prepared, the designers where busy distorting the artwork so a screen could be made to test the print.
Screen printing has to be done on the flat sheet before forming.
The printed sheet was then clamped into the vacuum forming machine, with the bell shaped tool underneath and heated. Once hot enough, the tool is lifted up into the flat sheet and a vacuum is applied removing all the air between the sheet and the tool.

The sheet is cooled and keeps the shape of the bell. The bell is removed from the vacuum former and goes to the trimming department where the excess is removed and the edges hand finished to produce a smooth finish.
These steps may have to be made several times, changing the artwork and producing a new screen to achieve the desired result.
Once approved, the production run of bells were produced and packed ready for delivery.

The outcome

Vacmould was proud to be associated with a fresh new look for the City of Melbourne. By using the latest LED lighting in the bells, considerable energy was saved, easily justifying the new design.
The bells have been designed to be reused, and can be reconfigured to change the look in years to come.