Our newest project revolves around exploring modern textile manufacturing techniques. We’ve been challenged to create a “fabric” using 3D printing. The fabric must be made of connecting linkages and must be printed in place. The use of 3D printers opens up a lot of avenues for non-traditional geometries and linkages but also imposes limitations on size, flexibility, and color.
To begin, I brainstormed different ways to attach units to one another. I wanted to either explore either using anisotropic properties of certain geometries or linkages that would be nigh impossible to make traditionally.
Most of the examples used in class featured hinging units that are free only to rotate in one direction relative to one another. These pieces when put together are able to offer a degree of flexibility and can be selectively adjusted. I wanted to try a different approach and finally settled on a sphere and loop geometry. I figured this would offer many different ways to change the properties of the material, would still be very flexible, and features a non-traditional geometry.
To create this design I decided I wanted to use Grasshopper to generate a parametric swatch of material. I figured this would allow me to change things easily and make iterations quickly. The only problem was I didn’t know how to use grasshopper…
After many hours of tedious trial and error I came up with a pretty flexible design of a piece of this type of material-
I ended up printing this out and it was a disaster. The linkages were much too long, the overhangs pushed past the printer’s limits, and I didn’t use proper supports. Going back to the drawing board I decided to change up some of the geometry to make it easier to print (and easier to change some parameters in grasshopper).
Here’s this design.
However, this print also came out pretty bad-
After quite a few trial and error experiences I finally was able to create a geometry and print set up that created a successful piece. It ended up being more flexible than I expected and is really fun to just hold and shape into different designs.
Here is a drawing of the printed piece
One fun thing I realized after I printed the swatch was that it looked like a jumbled mess of atoms when you balled it up. I want to explore the change that it undergoes from an something that looks completely unordered and chaotic, to a relatively ordered piece of fabric.