to DeskProto home page
looking glass icon
to DeskProto Facebook page
to DeskProto Youtube page
to DeskProto Instagram page

DeskProto software used to create 12 meter high interactive sculpture.

For immediate release, Oct 2004.

Utrecht (the Netherlands) -- Oct 5, 2004 -- Artist Q.S. Serafijn and architect Lars Spuybroek have teamed up in order to create a unique piece of art: the 12 meter high D-Tower sculpture in Doetinchem (NL). The Tower is a freeformed sculpture which shows how this city is dealing with its emotions. The city's inhabitants can express their feelings on the project website, and as a result the color of the D-Tower each night shows the most intense emotion. The Tower has been officially opened on September 1st, 2004, and has attracted international attention because of it's unique features.

The D-Tower at night
The complex geometry of the tower: resembling a human heart, however 12 meter high.
This night the prevailing emotion is happiness (purple).

The rather uncommon geometry of the tower has been designed as a model of a throbbing heart, being the symbolic location of these emotions. A computer model of this geometry was made, and scale-models could easily be created. However, creating this geometry as 12 meter high sculpture was not so easy. This is where architect bureau VisionMachine came in, as their earlier experiences with freeformed buildings had resulted in knowhow and a sound network of subcontractors. One of these subcontractors is DeskProto user Komplot Mechanics in Rotterdam. Using a large size CNC milling machine (2 x 5 meter), Komplot likes it to accept challenging projects like 1:1 car models, boat hulls, freeformed buildings and more.

"We have worked with other CAM software before, however regularly found that after many hours of calculation the toolpath was just not exactly what we needed", says Haiko Dragstra of Komplot Mechanics.
"DeskProto for us is the ideal software. The toolpaths are perhaps not the most efficient, still we are ready much quicker than before as the software calculates quickly, and does not require much time to prepare the job."

The tower was constructed of 19 different parts, each part being a glass fiber reinforced epoxy plastic shell of about 4 mm thick. For each part a mould has been machined by Komplot in polystyrene foam: sufficient for a series of just one product (some moulds have been used a few times though). The CAD geometry was transferred to DeskProto as STL file, and toolpaths for a large cutter were generated. As the actual size does not mater for DeskProto, this is just as easy as calculating toolpaths for a small golden brooch.

As some moulds were too large even for this machine, the moulds had to be machined in separate parts. Best solution was to use building blocks in one standard block size. DeskProto allows this using it's segmentation option. Of course these moulds needed to be sufficiently accurate to allow assembly of the parts later. The color capability has been added using powerful LED lights. You can see today's actual color using the Tower's webcam.
A more complete story including many pictures can be seen at the DeskProto Gallery.

About the D-Tower project

The D-Tower is the first of a series of five Towers A, B, C, D, E), to be placed on the locations of the city's five former gates. For more information see the Tower website.

About Komplot Mechanics

This company basically is a builder of specialty machines, however also likes it to accept challenging commissions using one of their own machines. For some example projects see their website. For more information and some example projects see

About DeskProto

DeskProto by Delft Spline Systems is the 3D CAM program that has made CNC milling a competing technology for Rapid Prototyping. The software can import STL files from any 3D CAD system, and can export NC program files suited for any 3-axis CNC milling machine. Key features are low price, high speed and ease of use (the software is aimed at designers, not at CAM specialists).
For more information see

DeskProto is a registered trademark of Delft Spline Systems.