The 2nd in a series of articles written by those deep in the heart of the most exciting architecture and design studios. Curated by Gem Barton the “view from the insider” series showcases processes, products, individuals and more, that make the behind-the-scenes practices run so smoothly.
View from the Insider: story behind the Ray Shelf by Matteo Gerbi
Discovering the story of a product, how it is made or little secrets in its development is something that captured my interest since I was a child. I remember being able to appreciate in full the Gothic cathedrals after I started studying the history of the artists and the difficulties that they encountered at the time looking for uses of new technologies (such as the invention of the pointed arch). It is probably true to say that everyone likes to know what is behind a product, maybe as a form of reassurance or just for curiosity. For example, if we think of modern restaurants, it’s very notable that the number of places where customers can see the way the food is cooked is increasing. The reason probably lies in the fact that they feel reassured when they see that what they are going to eat contains fresh or organic ingredients and is freshly cooked.
This is the reason why I have decided to show the production sequences of my design, through pictures and brief descriptions, so that customers could be able to enjoy the work and the passion behind Ray Shelf.
STEP 1 – CNC Punching
The components of Ray Shelf are cut from a steel metal sheet using a hardened steel punch. The manufacturing process is called CNC Punching and the machines are controlled directly from files created by CAM software packages.
As you can see from the picture below, the cuts are very precise. The sections are removed from the metal sheet.
STEP 2 – Press Braking
The sections are now bent. This forming technology is called Press Braking and is manually operated. The metal is bent along a single axis between a punch and die. This technique is used only for the rectangular and triangular Ray Shelf’s supports.
The picture below shows the product after the press braking.
STEP 3 – Bending
For the circular and elliptical Ray Shelf supports, a wheel forming process is used in order to produce accurate sheet metal curved.
The picture below shows the metal sheet after the bending.
STEP 4 – Welding
All the sections are now welded together. In the picture you can see how this job requires a great precision and expert knowledge of the equipment.
The support takes its final shape.
STEP 5 – Cleaning
Imperfections such as welding scales are removed from the edges.
STEP 6 – Powder Coating
The supports are now ready for powder coating. Firstly, the support has to be clean from all oil, grime and lubrication greases. Then, the powder is applied using an electrostatic gun.
The supports are now ready for curing (see picture below). The supports are placed in an oven for 20-30 min at 200 LC. During this process the powder begins to melt, flows out, and it reacts chemically to form a higher molecular weight.
Ray Shelf is now ready.
In conclusion, even the simplest shape requires great skills, lots of work energy and resources. As my customers well know, I strongly believe in sustaining our local manufacturers and in designing sustainable products; but in the end the real sustainability is to take care of the product itself by fully appreciating the quality and the passion behind it.