Swatch Design Process: 1D & 2D

For this assignment, I intend to take advantage of the material’s solid nature to make a strong and relatively impenetrable structure.

0. The Final Product

I made two separate designs, one made up of interlocking hexagon units, the other made up of lines of hinged fish-scale units.

The hexagon design spreads 2D, and has a touch similar to knitted cloth, but it also has the potential to be hard and impenetrable with slight adjustment on the base unit. The “scale” design is flexible for bending and twisting, but has little stretch effect. It is more suitable for linear object such as belt and necklace, but it also achieves planar shapes when joint together.

1.0 First Attempt

I started with the shape of a fish scale, and tried to connect each unit with vertically with hinge and horizontally with ball joint, as shown in the image below.


click here to view pdf

The mistake I made was to have scaled it to small and the print stuck to each other


1.1 Changing Design

In the first draft, I noticed that the ball joint needs very high printing resolution, so I changed the ball joint to a ring and a hole. Also, the hinges are too thin, so I changed the radius from 0.2mm to 0.5mm

Below is the new design: The difference from the first one is that the ball joints are replaced with a ring and a hole, which is easier to print, and the overall scale is five times of the previous one. (width now: 40mm; width previous: 8mm)


click here to view pdf

The printing turned out to be acceptable at first: the hinge and ring system both worked, but the unit was too large to turn into something wearable, and the hinge was still too thin that it broke easily.


1.2 Refine the Sizes

I then scaled the piece size down to 30mm, but strengthened the hinge so that the radius now is 0.7mm (hole radius: 1mm) The prints turned out to be acceptable, but still too big.


Then I kept the same hole/hinge sizes while scaled the piece width down to 20mm. The hole was too close to the edge, but overall, it can make a good unit.


1.3 Design Variations

For the variation, I decided to change the height of the piece surface. The the surface is low (as the one on the right), the piece moves freely, and when the surface is high (as the one on the left), the pieces lock into each other and become more stable.


click here to view pdf

To see the effect, I arranged the three types of units vertically as below.

D3 detailed.jpg

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The final printing is satisfactory, except that the ring looks less consistent with the main part.


Below are all printed units in real scale


2.0 A New Structure

This swatch is strong and flexible, but it has several shortcomings: it does not have stretch effect, and it is too linear. This structure can make a good rope/belt, but is not ideal for spreading a 2D surface.

Now I am designing a new type of triangle&hexagon based 2D structure designed and printed as below. In my final project, I will be able to integrate the two types of materials and take advantage of their individual features.


click here to view pdf

2.1 Explore aesthetic variations

I adjust the sizes in order to add variation to this structure. Also, I added the spaces between the base hexagon and three-line pattern, which guarantees the pieces won’t stuck together.

The design graph is below


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The printing is satisfactory. It can be transformed into various shapes and size.

2.2 Extend a 2D surface

To test this unit’s potential in spreading a surface, I made a new structure with more regular pattern. The drawing is below in two different sizes.

second D3 V2.jpg

click here to view pdf

The space in between create a bending-free and stretchable surface that simulates the feel of knitted material.


2.3 The Swatch

I made some edits to the structure by adding another layer of units beneath the original piece. In this way, the structure is more complete and hopefully stronger.

second D3 V3.jpg

click here to view pdf

The printed swatch works as expected. With three layers of units, it is stronger but less flexible in shape.



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