Read here about Tom Flemons (1953-2018) a leading creator of tensegrity models of the human body. Flemons is also the creator of the Skwish , a children's toy that has sold millions of models to date.
Tom Flemons of Intension Designs created tensegrity models and sculptures for decades. His last works focused on human anatomical structures. Be sure to read his article, The Geometry of Anatomy - the Bones of Tensegrity on his website.
From his http://intensiondesigns.ca%7Cwebsite: Tom Flemons is an artist and inventor that has employed tensegrity principles for 30 years to design portable structures, free-standing fences, children's toys (Skwish), furniture, mobiles and sculptures. He first noticed the formal resemblance between tensegrity masts and vertebral 'columns' in 1985 and built several models of a tensegral spine which he sold to doctors and chiropractors. A search of the medical literature on bio-mechanics revealed no one was exploring the similarity of spines and tensegrity masts. However an orthopedic surgeon - Dr. Stephen Levin was writing about the connection and eventually he and Tom met and began to work together in the 90's.
For over ten years, in collaboration with Dr. Levin, Tom has built many bio-tensegrity analogs of vertebrate anatomy and it has proved quite possible to model the body using tensegrity. Each iteration approaches a better accuracy and resolution of anatomy and in turn sparks insight into an explanation of bio-mechanics that does not require levers and fulcrums.
Selected Videos by Tom Flemons
Flemons occasionally posts videos of his dynamic models.
Above, a three fold tensegrity spiral mast composed of wooden struts and an elastic tension net is actuated by using three vertical control lines. (For greater control, six control lines are needed). The mast illustrates the force vectors active in living forms such as an octopus, an elephant trunk, or a cat's tail. It also schematizes how fascial support in the spine can assist in lateral and rotational movement but also provides stability by stiffening the mast when required by tightening the control lines.
Model Image Gallery
We divide Flemon's work into biological, anatomical models and non-human anatomical models. The images are from http://www.intensiondesigns.com/gallery_sculptures.html.
The following tensegrity models represent human or animal anatomical forms.
Albert, the Human Skeleton Model
For more information, see spine.
For more information, see pelvis.
The following tensegrity models do not represent human anatomical forms. Some are pure abstract tensegrities, while others protray real
For more information, see Skwish.
Flemons wrote: Larger tensegrities begin to run up against limits imposed by weight and material strength. The Floating Logs sculpture for example weighs approximately 1000 lbs yet the tensional forces required to 'pull' it together exceed two tons. The larger the structure the lighter and stronger the materials need to be and the more fail safe the tensional components and linkages.