Durotaxis rocker features gradient mesh informed by function, ergonomics, and aesthetics.For Synthesis Design + Architecture founding principal Alvin Huang, there is a lot to love about 3D printing. But he does not always like how the technology is applied. "I see it all the time—a lot of students just 3D print everything," said Huang, who also teaches at the USC School of Architecture. "You see things that could have been done better, faster, or cleaner by hand. I find it a very troublesome predicament we're in, we're letting the tool dictate." When Stratasys contacted Synthesis about designing a piece for their Objet500 Connex3 printer, the architects decided to turn the relationship between human and machine on its head. Instead of asking how they could implement a preconceived design using the Objet printer, they challenged themselves to create something that could only be manufactured using this particular tool. Durotaxis Chair, a prototype of which debuted at the ACADIA 2014 conference, showcases Objet's multi-material 3D printing capabilities with a gradient mesh that visually communicates the rocker's function and ergonomics. Though Synthesis designed the Durotaxis Chair almost entirely in the digital realm, said Huang, "we see the computer very much as an intuitive tool, the same way previous generations thought of the pencil. We try to find a happy medium between the scientific aspect, and the intuitive manipulation of that science." The architects bounced among multiple software programs including Rhino, Grasshopper, Weaverbird, ZBrush, and Maya to craft a form that operates in two positions: upright, as a traditional rocking chair, and horizontally, as a lounger. The chair's structure comprises an interwoven mesh of two materials, one rigid, opaque, and cyan in color, the other flexible, translucent, and white. While the resultant gradients reflect both the physics and ergonomics of the chair, they also deliver an intended aesthetic effect, creating a moiré pattern that encourages the observer to move around the chair. "It wasn't the case of the code creating the form," explained Huang. "We very clearly sculpted it for visual and ergonomic properties." Stratasys manufactured the half-scale prototype at their headquarters in Israel. Unlike a typical 3D printer, which has one head with one nozzle, the Object contains two heads with 96 nozzles each. Using proprietary substances the company calls "digital material," said Huang, "you can print a matrix of gradients between those two heads. In our case, we were able to create gradients not just of color, but also stiffness and transparency." Synthesis remained in constant touch with the Stratasys team throughout fabrication, fine-tuning the design as problems arose. "It was also an experimental process for them," said Huang. "Ultimately, through a lot of back and forth, we were able to arrive at something they were able to print." Synthesis is now tweaking their design for a full-scale version of Durotaxis Chair. The principal challenge they encountered while fabricating the prototype, explained Huang, was an excess of support mesh. "It's still a big manual process. You have to remove all of the support material." The updated design will take advantage of the team's finding that, by printing vertically up to a certain angle, they can eliminate the need for support mesh. "We're trying to take it a step further," said Huang. "How do we expedite the process, and refine the geometry of the lattice so that you're changing direction before the material starts to droop? We're trying to do something where, in a sense, we're growing the chair." Despite his discontent with the way some young practitioners approach 3D printing, Huang thinks that the technology holds great promise, especially in the world of architecture. He points to some of his contemporaries, like fellow Angeleno and architect/jewelry designer Jenny Wu, who is taking 3D printing in exciting new directions. "When you think about architecture and design, most of what we do is the assembly of products, and the more bespoke you can make them, the better," said Huang. "I look at 3D printing as a shift from rapid prototyping to rapid manufacturing. Hopefully someday we can produce bespoke items for the same impact as mass-produced items—that is the theoretical holy grail."
Posts tagged with "ACADIA":
Tex-Fab has concluded the initial stage of its international competition called SKIN. The two-stage competition invited architects, designers, and researchers to rethink the traditional building envelope by exploring the performative qualities of a facade. Participants selected any context, real or virtual, at any scale and on any building type. Phase one jurors narrowed down 68 entries from across the world to four finalists and four honorable mentions. Jurors Phil Anzalone, Maria Mingallon, Gregg Pasquarelli, Randy Stratman, and Skylar Tibbits conferred on July 9th and initially selected 14 entries to discuss. Varying in type and method, the entries depicted a diverse display of ideas and work, compelling the jury to choose four finalists and four honorable mentions. Finalists include Project 2XmT by Christopher Romero and Nicholas Bruscia, Cellular Complexity by Kais Al-Rawi, Julia Koerner, and Marie Boltenstern, Robot Assisted Sheet Metal Fabrication by Lik Hang Gu, Nathan Shobe, and Qi Su, and Sense by Isak Worre Foged and ANke Pasold. The first of the finalists, Project 2XmT, has a visibly developed working model and reveals the dramatic impact from various viewpoints created by small undulations or shifting panels. Juror Skylar Tibbits commented that “it’s the one most in line with the brief.” The next finalist, Cellular Complexity, has an appealing formal potential that tests the limits of architecture. Juror Phillip Anzalone remarked, “If it’s truly developed 3-dimensionally that would be fantastic.” Robotic Assisted Sheet Metal Fabrication was chosen as a finalist in context with the project per-Forming (HM), which received honorable mention, as both interacted with metal forming in distinctive, yet complimentary aspects. Juror Maria Mingallon trusts that “this one could really push the boundaries of TEX-FAB and could add to the exhibition at ACADIA." The last finalist, Sense, is simple with potential to be very dynamic. Tibbits remarked “it’s a known phenomena that could produce some exciting effects." Honorable mentions include Organized Crime by Kyle Miller, Evaporative Folding by Jeana Ripple, Hydromorph by Camden Greenlee and Brian Vesely, and per-FORMING by Jake Newsum and Ammar Kalo. The phase two jury includes Michele Addington, James Carpenter, Neil Denari, Mic Patterson, and William Zahner. Moving onto the second round, the four finalists will use $1000 stipends to develop prototypes of their projects, which will be installed at the ACADIA Adaptive Architecture Conference at the University of Waterloo in October 2013. At that time, the jurors will select a winner whose scheme will be assembled in full scale for the TEX-FAB 4.0 conference.
Three winning designs to be fabricated by Brooklyn-based Flatcut.This October, winners of the ACADIA (Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture) design and fabrication competition will show off their parametric chops as part of the organization’s annual conference, now in its 30th year. Announced last week, winners were chosen from 15 finalists by a jury that included Tod Williams of TWBTA, Chris Sharples of SHoP Architects, Tom Wiscombe of Emergent, Dror Benshetrit of Studio Dror, and Thomas Christoffersen of BIG. The competition sought designs in three categories—furniture, partitions, and lighting—and entrants were encouraged to propose hybrid material assemblies that minimized waste and maximized material performance. Tomer Ben-Gal, founder of Brooklyn-based fabrication studio and competition co-sponsor Flatcut, served as technical advisor. Flatcut will fabricate the winning designs in its 100,000-square-foot Passaic, New Jersey, machine shop before they are sent to the conference, held at the University of Calgary, where they will be displayed from October 11-16. Furniture: RECIP Designs in the furniture category had to be produced using two sheets of flat materials, one rigid and one flexible, no larger than 5 feet by 10 feet. Any material that would be available for sourcing by Flatcut was considered valid. The winning design, RECIP, is a modular furniture system by three students at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Environmental Design. The project explores scoring techniques applied to 1/8-inch-thick recycled rubber, which is then folded into self-reinforcing and interlocking toothed panels and laminated to heavyweight felt batting. The team showed judges how the rigid yet flexible system could be folded into chairs, tables, shelving, or spatial dividers, then dismantled and recycled at the end of its life. “I think what attracted us [to RECIP] innately in a contemporary way is the fusion of two different materials and the way they performed together,” said competition judge Tom Wiscombe in his comments. “It involved certain types of techniques, like fusing, melting and different modes of manufacturing rather than using a single known tooling process.” Click here to see a PDF of the project boards. Partition: Hyperlaxity Partition category designs were permitted to use three 5-by-10-foot sheets of material to build their designs. The winner, Hyperlaxity: Parabolic Ligaments, was a collaboration between SOM’s Elizabeth Boone and PROJECTiONE design and fabrication studio founded by Adam Buente and Kyle Perry in 2010. The design uses aluminum components, including hundreds of v-clips, o-rings, i-bars, and triangular plates, joined by hexagonal silicone tendons with slits that allow the material to stretch over the aluminum pieces. Judge Dror Benshetrit said the non-modular form pushed parametric design. “I like how technically the inner rings, together with the other shapes create different opposite hexagon forms,” he said. Click here to see a PDF of the project boards. Lighting: Luminescent Limacon Like the furniture category, designs in the lighting category had to be produced using two sheets of rigid and flexible materials within the machine-able dimensions. Inspired in part by the fanciful linen collars of 17th-century Europe, the winning design is made with folded and nested ruffles of laser-cut 3form Ecoresin held together with a lattice of aircraft suspension cable, which produces tensile and compressive forces to create the light’s structural stability. Designer Andrew Saunders, an assistant professor of architecture Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, derived the pendant’s shape from a Limacon curve. The variables of this equation can be changed to produce different lighting effects based on conditions and performance criteria. “That it is two systems, one of a surface system and one of a kind of vector, is what I think together makes it look so beautiful and elegant,” commented Wiscombe. Click here to see the project boards.