We present a computational tool for designing ornamental curve networks—structurally-sound physical surfaces with user controlled aesthetics. In contrast to approaches that leverage texture synthesis for creating decorative surface patterns, our method relies on user-defined spline curves as central design primitives. More specifically, we build on the physically-inspired metaphor of an embedded elastic curve that can move on a smooth surface, deform, and connect with other curves. We formalize this idea as a globally coupled energy-minimization problem, discretized with piece-wise linear curves that are optimized in the parametric space of a smooth surface. Building on this technical core, we propose a set of interactive design and editing tools that we demonstrate on manually-created layouts and semi-automated deformable packings. In order to prevent excessive compliance, we furthermore propose a structural analysis tool that uses eigenanalysis to identify potentially large deformations between geodesically-close curves and guide the user in strengthening the corresponding regions. We used our approach to create a variety of designs in simulation, validated with a set of 3D-printed physical prototypes.
There might be a perception that 3D printing pens are for doodling and crafting but several designers are using general purpose and customized pens for something completely different. Recently, architect Kengo Kuma led a group of University of Tokyo students in an installation (up top) created with a custom 3D printing pen they designed (above). The pen is used to create architectural structures by linking acrylic rods using the melted filament in the pen. These structures are intended to last for 9 months or so, but can be enhanced and reinforced continuously with more filament connections (see detail below).
As turbine makers produce ever-larger blades—the longest now measure 75 meters, almost matching the wingspan of an Airbus A380 jetliner—they must be engineered to operate virtually maintenance-free for decades. In order to meet more demanding specifications for precision, weight, and quality consistency, manufacturers are searching for new sandwich construction material options.
Now, using a cocktail of fiber-reinforced epoxy-based thermosetting resins and 3D extrusion printing techniques, materials scientists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have developed cellular composite materials of unprecedented light weight and stiffness. Because of their mechanical properties and the fine-scale control of fabrication (see video), the researchers say these new materials mimic and improve on balsa, and even the best commercial 3D-printed polymers and polymer composites available.
In a three-month project a bicycle frame has been designed by team of students from the Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology to showcase the potential of the printing specialists MX3D of Amsterdam and their method of printing metal by three-dimensional means. Development of the ‘Arc Bicycle’ is part of a research project at AMS Building Fieldlab, and involved use of multi-axis robotic arms to 3D-print the frame. As Harry Anderson of the design team states, “The topic of 3D printing has exploded in popularity over the last decade, but the technology still comes with significant limitations for those wanting to print medium- to large-scale objects. The MX3D method of 3D printing now makes it possible to create large metal objects with almost total form freedom”.
When it comes to deciphering the possible usage of new technologies – additive manufacturing technologies especially – oftentimes the creators of the technology themselves will hire some of the top creatives in their field to test the limits of what’s possible with the new technology – whether it’s for the development of a new piece of hardware or for a new software application. Oftentimes, the result is nothing short of remarkable.
Such is the case more recently with 3D printing pioneer Janne Kyttanen, a designer who is currently a senior creative fellow at 3D systems responsible for churning out creative applications for the company’s latest tech. Kyttanen’s latest piece, Sofa So Good, was inspired by the structures of spiderwebs and silkworm cocoons to create a sofa design that could only be fabricated using additive manufacturing technologies.
By 3D printing lots of small pieces that can be combined, Gershenfeld and Kenneth Cheung built a composite material that’s up to 10 times stiffer than existing ultralight materials. The structure is made up of cross-shaped pieces into “a cubic lattice of octahedral cells, a structure called a “cuboct” — which is similar to the crystal structure of the mineral perovskite.” Because it’s assembled, it can be disassembled. That means it can be repaired or rearranged. Gershenfeld and Cheung are working to develop robots that can traverse the structures and assemble them.