The MIT Self-Assembly Lab and Swiss designer Christophe Guberan have unveiled a range of new lighting and household items that are 3D-printed in soft materials and then inflated to their proper sizes. Liquid to Air: Pneumatic Objects is currently on display at the Patrick Parrish Gallery at 50 Lispenard Street in Manhattan through August 26.
The Self-Assembly Lab team, consisting of Björn Sparrman, Schendy Kernizan, Jared Laucks, and Skylar Tibbits, were able to “draw” the malleable objects using rapid liquid printing. The experimental process is a collaboration between the lab and furniture company Steelcase and can be used to rapidly print large-scale products in a variety of materials. Prints are “drawn” in a vat of gel using a variety of extruded materials–everything from rubber to plastic–that only stick to themselves and not the gel. The prints are limited only by the size of the container holding them, don’t require supports, and can contain variable thicknesses within a single object, representing a huge leap forward for 3D printing technology.
For Liquid to Air, the team printed table lamps, pendants, and sconces from silicone rubber and inflated them into round, buoyant fixtures with a malleable finish. Walking through Patrick Parrish Gallery, visitors are encouraged to touch the final products, which also include multi-chambered vessels used as vases and holders for stationery. A hands-on exploration reveals that everything is soft to the touch and rebounds after squeezing, demonstrating the potential of rapid liquid printing to create complex but durable objects.
Liquid to Air isn’t the first collaboration between the Self-Assembly Lab and Guberan. The team has worked together since 2014, and last year they printed a series of mesh handbags and lighting fixtures for Design Miami 2017 and used rapid liquid printing to churn out unique pieces in a matter of minutes.