August 19, 2022

Designing and Creating a Tree Sculpture for TomTom

Designing and Creating a Tree Sculpture for TomTom

By Shane Balise and Quinn Renshaw, STEM;

The HACTC’s STEM class was commissioned by TomTom North America to design and create a sculpture for their Lebanon, NH, offices. TomTom is a global company that creates software and navigation technology. 

The first part of our engineering process for this project was brainstorming. We spent a week going through many different ideas, and refining our ideas each time. In the end we decided to design and build a tree. The tree has three branches, each symbolizing a branch of TomTom - Technology, Fitness and Navigation. With this plan we set out to find the right materials and figure out the process of making each part. 

We started the process by splitting into four groups to cover the various parts of the tree: the three branches and the trunk. For the wood we decided that Baltic Birch plywood would look best and have a good edge for stacking. The plan we had was to do a huge glue up of two parts of the tree, the branches and trunk. To curve the edges we used grinders to shape the tree and branches. After the grinding we spent two weeks sanding the wood down until it was smooth. On the left branch we decided to use circuit boards to express the technology aspect of TomTom. We designed the middle branch to hold 3-D printed versions of TomTom’s fitness watches. Lastly, we designed the final branch on the right to hold a 3-D printed road with 3-D printed cars on it, to represent the Navigation. 

The majority of trees have leaves, and our tree was not an exception. For the leaves we plasma cut steel into the shape of maple leaves and then hydro dipped them into an oil-based liquid paint. There are roughly 250 steel leaves, each one taking 1 minute to cut out, totaling over four hours of cutting time. There is a color difference from right to left, which represents the transition of leaf colors from spring to fall. The plaque is made out of a granite tile, and was laser engraved using our 45W laser cutter. 

This project has helped our class understand the steps of engineering, which we followed to successfully design, plan, and create a marvelous reflection of our combined ideas. We learned how to use new power equipment that could be helpful in an engineering workplace. The project has not only expanded our knowledge of the engineering process but has given us the opportunity to reach out into the community and do live work for customers.