Department of


Arch 433: The Ball is in Your Socket

Course: Arch 433
Students Involved: Josh Cobler and Peter Fonkert


To begin the project we decided that we wanted to be able to create a joint that allowed relatively free rotation before and after we connected the different elements together. We started by researching different types of joints that had at least one socketed element because we knew that that would be needed in order for the joints to allow this type of rotation. Some of the joints we found had arms and some did not. To begin our process we began critiquing each of these precedents and taking their best qualities and began applying them to our project in a way that would best benefit our research question. The Ball Socket Joint is the original precedent that got us thinking about rotation because it is able to use one element and connect into itself over and over. By doing this, you are able to create basically any shape you could imagine because each section can rotate 180 degrees in the x-axis and 180 degrees in the y-axis while looking in plan. In essence it basically acts like a snakes body when it is bent and rotated. The second precedent, Ball and Socket Joint, Is relatively the same as the first precedent except it has a smaller arm that allows it to lock into the slit that is in the side of the socket. The third precedent got us interested in having two or more separate elements to our joints because it being able to have pieces coming off of both sides of the joints which also gave it more of a free reign to create different shapes and designs for multiple applications. The fourth precedent, 3D printed Modular Ball-and-Socket Joints, was interesting because of the way the balls connected into the sockets. The way they connect by squeezing into the two sides of the socket actually give it more of a free range of motion on the y-axis but actually limit the rotation on the x-axis. The next precedent, Lego Ball Joint, caught our eye because of the way that they created two different types of connections on the same joint. The last precedent, Universal Joint, was particularly interesting because of its connections. It uses two center rods that connect through each other to be able to rotate on each axis. It was limiting, however, to use because the sides of the joint hit each other before they hit 90 degrees. When we started to print we were going back and forth on our socket to have four sides or three to see if we could have more rotation by having less material on the socket. We found that with three supports, there was not enough material to support the bending that we were hoping for and the ball started to pop out when we put the rods in. We also decided to add the dumbbell joint into our design because we found that the triangular socket and the single socket were not enough to be able to get the full rotation that we would have like to. In the end we found that we were able to successfully use three joints to create a variety of different shapes while still being structurally stable.

January 31, 2018 6:41 pm

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