Split Rock Studios specializes in creating cultural and natural history exhibits for museums, interpretive centers, aquariums, zoos, political institutions. . . you name it – they’ve done it. And they never stopped enjoying it.
Challenge: The projects at Split Rock Studios are usually one-of-a-kind displays that are artistically designed and need architectural engineering for the installation. The Key West Eco-Discovery Center project had its quirks… It was an exterior installation on an existing building so it would be exposed to an outdoor, ocean environment. A canopy covered sidewalk ran alongside the building. The display elements would have to be installed without removing the canopy supports for the sidewalk.
The final design included native fish, animals and plants, waterjet cut out of ½” aluminum. Each design element would be welded and powder coated. The largest element, a school of fish, was 48 feet long by 12 feet tall. The project included a somewhat long quoting process. However, once the project got underway the turn around had to be quick; approximately three to four weeks.
Waterjet Job Shop Requirements
- Powder Coating: Because of the powder coating we needed waterjet cutting so the paint would stick to the cut edge. The heat of a laser alters the chemical make up of the metal and paint will not permanently adhere to the edge.
- Large Size: Because of the large size of the elements we needed a waterjet cutter that had a large cutting surface.
- Artistic Element: Because of the artistic element we needed a waterjet company that could use their waterjet as an artistic tool to achieve the quality that our customer expected.
Solution: JIT Companies was referred to us as a waterjet job shop that specialized in one-off, more artistically challenging jobs. Their six foot by twelve foot Dynamic Waterjet® could accommodate the twelve-foot dimension of the largest element and their experience could accommodate how to cut the balance of the design on the longer dimension. We sent them a CAD file and they cleaned up the artwork to ensure smooth edges and sharp corners. JIT has more technology for dealing with artwork than the average waterjet job shop. JIT also engineered where to splice the elements to accommodate the installation around the canopy structure and the shipping of these large pieces to Florida. The job took four weeks to complete.
Result: The wall sculpture went together just as we planned. We were amazed at how incredibly easy it was to work with JIT Companies. We were impressed with their quality of work and their ability to understand the overall scope of the project, even to the extent that they could offer value-added engineering. JIT Companies has gained our confidence and we plan on continuing our relationship with them in the future.