#Oscars2015: How the Oscar's iconic statuettes are made
The Art Deco style Oscar’s statuettes are central to the annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles. The gold figurines are the epitome of perfection, glamour and glitz but do you know how they are made?
Manufacturing Global goes behind the scenes of the 10-day manufacturing process and finds out.
- The gold statuettes’ road to California starts 2,000 miles away in a Chicago workshop.
- In Chicago, the figures, which stand at 13.5 inches tall and weigh a hefty 8.5lbs, are painstakingly manufactured by the skilled craftsmen of R S Owens, who have made the Academy's highest award since 1983.
- The value of the raw materials is around $900, however, once awarded the worth of the statues can catapult - despite an official ban by the academy to sell them on.
- Although they shine golden, and are clad in a hefty coat of 24-carat gold, at their core an Oscar is made of a variant of pewter - a special alloy called britannium made especially for Oscar figures.
- Each statuette is made individually, and there is only one mold, which is used for every single Oscar.
- The liquid metal, at a scorching 570°F, is poured into a mold in the shape of a European knight, holding a downward-pointing longsword in both hands.
- The statues are then sanded down, polished and coated with other metals.
- The statues are painstakingly sanded by hand to match their iconic 1928 design. The slightest blemish leads to the figure being scrapped and started over.
- The figure shows a stylized knight wielding a longsword while standing atop a five-spoked reel of film.
- After being cast, the figures are sanded down then polished until the britannium alloy glimmers - even though it will not be the final coat on display.
- The Oscar is then treated to remove any grease of specs of other material, and engraved with a serial number. Around fifty of the awards have been made each year. So far 2,947 have been awarded, with at least 25 more added this Sunday.
- Next, the statue is dipped and electro-plated - a chemical technique that creates an even coating - in a metal bath. First the models are coated in copper, then nickel, then silver - and finally in 24-carat gold.
- Between each stage the figure is polished again to deepen its luster ahead of the equally glitzy presentation ceremony.
- The figures are finally attached to a black nickel base - but are left unlabeled until after the ceremony to preserve the secrecy of the winners.
- For the last step, the Oscar is covered in a lacquer to protect it from knocks and scratches. Finally, they are packaged in Styrofoam and flown under guard to Los Angeles for the final ceremony.
- Eventually each newly cast Oscar will be affixed with a plaque bearing the name and category of its recipient. At first the statues were taken back by the Academy while the plaques were engraved - but now eager stars can have their statues built up at the ceremony itself.
- If at any stage in the days-long process an Oscar does not come out perfectly, the figure is destroyed and a new one started to replace it.
- Once the statue is finished, it is guaranteed for life, and actors can send damaged figures back to have them replaced or brought back to their original brilliance.
Hexagon Revolutionises Manufacturing Design Process
A global leader in sensor, software and autonomous solutions, Hexagon recently announced that complex CFD (computational fluid dynamics) simulations can now be completed with the help of the world’s fastest supercomputer, Fugaku. Before this breakthrough, CFD simulations were far too expensive and time-consuming to run. Now, however, engineers can use these high-detail simulations to explore new ideas, iterate their designs, and optimise next-gen aircraft and electric vehicle manufacturing.
Thanks to Hexagon, manufacturers can now analyse what they’re up against before starting their build process—with one-third the energy use of traditional simulations and a fraction of the cost. This is only the latest step in Hexagon’s mission to use design and engineering data to speed up smart manufacturing. As the company wrote: ‘The idea of putting data to work is part of Hexagon’s DNA’.
What Are CFD Simulations?
Simply put, they’re simulations so complex and powerful that engineers usually have to spend hours upon hours simplifying their designs. 90% of an engineer’s time can centre around this task—but not with Fugaku-powered simulations. Now, original designs can be fed into the simulation software, reaching a much closer approximation of reality.
With the ARM-powered Fugaku supercomputer, Hexagon’s Cradle CFD clients can now reduce simulation cost, conserve valuable energy, and integrate high-detail simulations into their daily operations. At a time when the automotive and aerospace industries are racing to bring safe and sustainable transport options to market, in fact, CFD simulations could be the key to success.
How Does CFD Change the Game?
As auto manufacturers transition to electric vehicles, they must understand how design adjustments will affect the vehicle in real-time. Instead of physically iterating their blueprints, they’d rather work it out in theory. With CFD, engineers can now pre-test critical safety, performance, and longevity features—for example, how aerodynamics will interact with energy efficiency, or how thermal management will operate under a range of parameters. Essentially, CFD simulations speed up the design process and cut down on costly mistakes.
Said Roger Assaker, President of Design & Engineering in Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division: ‘Simulation holds the key to innovations in aerospace and eMobility. Advances such as the low-power Fugaku supercomputing architecture are one of the ways we can tap into these insights without costing the Earth, and I am delighted by what our Cradle CFD team and our partners have achieved’.
How Did Testing Unfold?
- Prototyped a typical family car. This is only possible with enhanced computing power. The car model consisted of 70 million elements using 960 cores and was simulated until it reached a steady-state using the RANS equation over 1000 cycles.
- Simulated transonic compressible fluid around an aeroplane. Made up of approximately 230 million elements, the simulation used 4,000 nodes using 192,000 computing cores and relied on 48,000 processes via Message Passing Interface (MPI).
Tomohiro Irie, Hexagon’s Director of R&D for Cradle CFD, commented on the recent progress: ‘I expect that these technical developments will contribute to making the power of Fugaku more accessible for general use, bringing huge freedom and improved insights to engineering teams solving tomorrow’s problems today’.
Overall, Hexagon intends to continue driving product innovation forward, with smart manufacturing that adapts to conditions in real-time, pursues perfect quality, and optimises designs for zero waste. And there’s little doubt about it. With 20,000 employees in 50 countries, coupled with Fugaku’s supercomputing capabilities, Hexagon is uniquely poised to succeed.