Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another Bridge, This One Made from Pasta

Maybe you've heard of balsa-wood bridges, but how about one made from noodles?

My previous blog post was about the awe-inspiring Hoover Dam Bypass bridge. My friend Richard Williams is the one who told me about that project, and recently he also sent me pictures of a project he worked on himself a few years ago: building a bridge made of fettucini pasta (yes, uncooked). The bridge is 32" long, 16" high, and 6" wide.

Because so many noodles were bent or broken, Richard went through three boxes of noodles to find the exact materials he needed. He constructed the I-beams from three noodles, using Elmer’s Wood Glue.

Richard planned carefully before building. He spent about a week in his garage performing noodle stress tests, and used FEA (finite element analysis) data from a Swiss engineer, based on info he received from the Barilla Pasta Company.

He then designed the trusses, supports, and "roadway" in SolidWorks. (The model almost looks like it was done in SketchUp.)

Here are the perfectly sized noodles, laid out and ready for assembly:

According to the FEA study, the bridge could theoretically support 7-8 pounds at mid-span. But Richard didn't load-test his bridge, because he had an internet following tracking his progress, who made it clear they didn't want the bridge to end up broken (or in a pot of boiling water). Perhaps if he had to do it all over again, Richard would build two identical bridges, and load-test only one of them?

Here's a shot of Richard with his creation. You'll be happy to know that Richard's wife has (only recently) allowed Richard back into her kitchen.

The fettucini bridge now lives in UNLV's Great Hall Museum, close to some of Howard Hughes' stuff. If you're in the area, pay it a visit!

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon
Join our FREE Email Mailing List!

No comments: