New Making is a course which encourages students to experiment with digital fabrication and understand how both materials and machinery’s boundaries be crossed. The subject areas we were asked to explore included hybrid materials, scaffolding glitches and parametric design. The machines we had available to work with were 3D printers, laser cutters and CNC milling, with a time frame of one week per exploration. The short time scale was intended to make us create small trials and experiments as opposed to designing a final piece. In this blog post I will briefly go through the three experimentations I have done and then explain the process of the one I have enjoyed the most. Firstly, the work done for hybrid materials had been inspired by Laura Spring’s lecture about her work. I have experimented with weaving techniques initially on fabric and then I proceeded in making laser cut cardboard templates for the weaving to be made. In this way, I was able to explore the combination between old weaving techniques and modern technologies. Secondly, for parametric design we have been introduced to Processing, a coding software, in order to create a 3D print. For this section I have looked into jewelry inspired or made with a parametric design. I found quite fascinating the contrast and the language created when combining geometrical shapes with the fluidity of the human body. The experimentation I worked on was the transformation of a cube to a hollow sphere whose surface is a net. Lastly, for scaffolding glitches I have looked at the artist Do Ho Suh and Unfold Design Studio. Their work inspired me due to their use of scaffolding and the perception that the structure is the most important part and not the actual inside. With these concepts in mind, I observed the structures created by the scaffoldings and used them to create the object rather than using them just for construction purposes. After the research I have created a few 3D models of fluid shapes and printed them making sure the support material was touching the piece everywhere. This prints created architectural shapes that from first appearance look like to be drawn as a whole piece and not a combination between support material and the modeled shape. Additionally, sections of the piece created extremely interesting shapes while printing. From these observations, I have started cutting the prints in sections and stopping the printer half way to have sections of the scaffoldings and to see the inside structures of them. In conclusion I have created two final explorations, informed by the process undertaken.
Within 3d printing, infill and scaffolding are what keep the object alive and present, understanding the different types is therefore very important. This investigation is all about seeing inside the object to better know how to make them, and knowing what might be done to make them better.
Designing through parameters produces a series of constraints and rules the model has to follow, my final artefact looks to visually interpret these boundaries and demonstrate the affordances in-between.
Working with software such as OpenScad provides a simple set of rules which can be applied to producing 3-Dimensional models. I found that using this tool to enclose a sphere within a cube was quite Ironic, constraining the model within it’s own parameter.
Collaborating with a machine is often a one sided conversation, yet throughout New Making, I’ve found that working with the Cura and the Unimaker printers has been an interesting conversation. Showing me how to look through my print and adapt the travels to make it possible to print aspects without support, while also teaching me what support infill to use, based on the individual model shape.
While I harnesses digital fabrication to produce a value driven design, I wanted to change the structure post print. To do this, I reduced the infill density, increasing the malleability of the PLA when exposed to high heat.
Across the experiments I’ve carried out, returning back to deconstruct the printed piece gave me the most satisfaction. I feel that this is due to removing my hands from the craft of making, watching a machine process a binary code which can be replicated infinitely.
The ever-growing depletion of the natural environment is not a new topic to be hearing today. Look at how many trees we chop off, amount of oil spill on the sea that cause many living creatures to suffer, air pollution that can’t be erased from the used-to-be bright blue sky. These are some of the harmful impacts we caused towards the natural environment that once used to be beautiful.
Through exploring traditional and new making from Hybrid materialities, scaffolding glitches and parametric design, I was able to come up with my own definition of what they stand for.
Traditional making can be referred as craftsmanship and manually working on a model. Its involves your physical abilities sometimes when making products as it needs strength and patience. This way of making things involves hand usage and specialisation.
New making on the other hand is a process of making products through the use of digitally forward mechanism. living at this age, this time, the process of making things becomes to simple that as a designer could save time on the model making process and iterate more towards the final output
A final output I want to share is this street sculpture that represents a topic that represents a big part of me as an Indonesian, Unity in Diversity
Indonesia is a Southeast Asian country made up of thousands of volcanic islands, is home to hundreds of ethnic groups speaking many different languages. From that many islands, I focused more into the island of java, where people of many diversities is unified as one.
The shape of the object imitates the rough edges of our “Candi” which translates to Temple in english. While as the object in the middle is symbolic for Buddha, which promotes peacefulness. Altogether, it reflects to our country’s slogan, unity in diversity
I was inspired by this type of “candi” , only found in the island of Java. The interesting part of this Candi is that people from this area only believes in how humans would have 11 instead of 13 chances to live to reach the 7th sky, which is believed to be heaven. This culture is not known to a very big amount of audience. Indonesia is made up of many islands, not just Bali. That is the message I want to relay to viewers. Hence, to introduce my country Indonesia to many more audience, I wanted to use this as a symbol.
The buddha on the other hand, will be symbolic for the parametric object in the middle of my piece. All in all, the different walls will convey a deep meaning of different varieties of people from different culture and background, and the middle as a symbol of peacefulness and unity. This piece is a modern design which depicts an old value. Through the combination of using new and traditional making process, I hope viewers will see the significance of this piece.
During the New Making course I explored the potential for digital fabrication to be combined with one other material though a series of hybrid objects.
I focused around the juxtaposition between the natural and the unnatural, using a combination of wood, cork and rock to contrast with the laser cut acrylic.
When the brief around hybrid materiality was set I was unsure where to start, typically my design process involved sketching, iterating, development and then finally making. This forced me to tip this notion on its head, as before I’d done any sketching I was looking for whatever scrap material I could use to create a hybrid material.
After finding some scrap acrylic I quickly create a file I could laser cut and experiment with. By ensuring there were pockets left in the material I allowed space I could use to blend another into. However, I wanted to join this with 3D natural materials to create the contrast, but how could I join the 2D acrylic and the 3D wood and rock?
Recently, I’d seen an article on melting plastic bottles around broken chair legs to ‘fix’ them. Was there a way I could do something similar but use purposely designed digital fabrications to create a more unique form?
The object at the front of the photo features a broken stick with heat gunned acrylic wrapped around. As the acrylic has cooled down, it’s contracted and held the acrylic in one place. I hadn’t anticipated the way that a material carries on changing after I’d formed it.
Another similar object is the perforated rectangle of acrylic I’d twisted and morphed into a more fluid and natural through the heat gun. I found the entanglement of the natural wood within the precise and glossy acrylic and interesting contrast. It was almost as if the wood was still growing and had altered the shape of the plastic it’s self.
In the centre of the photo, my main piece of the series combines the learning I’d used when heat gunning acrylic around natural forms with the use of an additional material to aid the joining. Creating this piece I allowed me to experiment with texture and form in a more intuitive and fluid way that i’d never associated with ‘digital fabrication’.
Is there a future in digitally fabricated materials that have had an added human and natural interaction? Would this create objects that harness the benefits of both digital craft and hand craft into one piece?
Overall, I found this project made me reconsider what it means to ‘design something’. The design process has no definitive right or wrong, but as we develop new materials and process maybe we need to fill our initial linear process on its head? Materials don’t just need to be part of the end of the process, they can be within the experimental, iterative and design idea stage.
Could we think more about design through making not design for making?
Throughout the New Making course, I explored multiple techniques that can be used together to create elements of design that would not otherwise have been possible 50 years ago. The exploration of parametric design was something that I found particularly interesting within the course. Parametric design is ‘a process based on algorithmic thinking that enables the expression of parameters and rules that, together, define, encode and clarify the relationship between design intent and design response’. By defining different parameters, you are able to digitally create intricate shapes, sculptures and structures within a matter of minutes that without the use of technology would take hours and hours of man power, if not, being impossible.
The ability to create these shapes was something that I found very interesting. I started my exploration within the software ‘Processing’. This was something that I had never tried before but saw a similar resemblance to Arduino coding which I have done in the past. Through iteration and exploration, I was able to create an immediate visual, on screen 3D shape that was adaptable and theoretically printable. I struggled to figure out how to actually export the code from Processing as an STL file for printing which led me to try new software.
The second software I tried was ‘Open sCAD’, I found this relatively easy to get to grips with and immediately started experimenting with different shapes whilst watching different tutorials online for help. I felt slightly limited with this software in terms of what I would have liked to make versus what the software would allow me to do, however that may have just been down to my lack of knowledge. One thing that I did appreciate about the Open sCAD software was the easy of exporting an STL for print. This is where I made my first two prints, both iterations of the same parametric shape, made from multiple different sized triangles pieced together. I had to print both structures with scaffolding to support them which unfortunately detracted from the defined, geometric finish I intended.
The most enjoyable part of my parametric exploration was when I started using Grasshopper, a plugin for Rhino. This took a lot of tutorial watching to get the fundamentals and I still feel as if I only know a small portion of the software but it allowed me to create organic shapes with a fluidity and satisfying aesthetic. I found these objects to replicate that of some architecture pieces where there is a juxtaposition between the brutalist nature of the external façade with the fluidity of the shape and structure. I went on to use parametric design within my final artefact where I also put to use the brim created by the 3d print as part of my final shape. Often the adhesion plate is discarded and only used for printing, however I thought it would be interesting to incorporate this into my design itself.
I think that the exploration of parametric design is something that will take a huge amount more practice to learn how to incorporate it into my real-world designs, however as an exploration point of view, I have learnt enough to get me started.
My final artefact for New Making features a 3D printed shell that employs the cross pattern infill as small vessels. While infill material is often hidden from view, this artefact showcases it. Despite the fact that it no longer supports the object encasing it in the intended way, the vessels now provide a new kind of support for different materials.
The base object originates from a dodecahedron that has been sliced at various axes to create different geometry. However, instead of completing the print, it was halted during the process to create an unfinished and unrecognisable shape, as well as to showcase the infill pattern.
Each vessel contains a different colour of cured resin with varying finishes. The acrylic dyed resins have a more opaque and flaky finish, which gives the illusion of depth. The resin dyed with india ink has a clearer finish and allows the details of the 3D print to show through.
Abstract wire flowers painted with resin, along with thread ‘bushes’ create the image of an abstract garden. I wanted to highlight the juxtaposition of nature with digital fabrication, while using various materials and craft methods to create different textures and finishes.
At first on new making I thought I wanted to go down the route of metal, creating a wall piece, based on minimalism, however after exploring with 3D printing a bit more and realising how easy it is to adapt and create interesting things, I decided to use this for my final artefact. I wanted to join steel, and rope as my materials for hybrid materiality’s. And I wanted to do this using the process of laser cutting. I started off creating models out of cardboard and using string, to get ideas of how it would look. I experimented with different patterns. I then created a print of where I wanted the holes to be for the ‘picture’ and threated it to create my artefact. I wanted it to have a minimalistic look to it and I think I pulled it off. For the second artefact we were exploring scaffolding glitches. For this I wanted to try explore some of these all in one model. So I created a shape that had an overhang, curve and also played about with the infill. It does not look very appealing but it worked exactly how I intended it, to show glitches in the 3D printing process. However, In the design I took a piece of material out, to see if it would collapse some of the material. However, this part remained fine, which taught me some things about the material. I think this happened as the material had two points of contact instead of just one. The parametric design aspect took me a while to get my head around using the software. However, I found this software, named mesh mixer. Which was pretty easy to use for creating parametric shapes and printing them. I experimented with a basic cylindrical shape first, then moved onto more complex things like morphing elephants, rabbits, bull heads, and a chicken foot. Just playing about with them and getting used to the concept. I decided to 3D print the foot as I found it the most interesting and was intrigued to see how it would stand once printed. Luckily it did not need any scaffolding to hold it up so it still maintained the original look and the final outcome was really nice. Parametric design was one of the areas I ended up exploring the most as I found it really interesting as I had never played around with these kind of shapes before for printing. For my final artefact I decided I wanted to create a small, visually appealing piece, that also showed what I had learned over the course of the past few weeks. At first I looked at having floating spheres, connected by thin lines, however this ended up looking to be too complex for the time given. I then looked at using scaffolding to hold the spheres up, which actually looked very appealing, and also worked well as it demonstrated what I had learned previously. I also looked at visually appealing infills, as I planned on leaving the top sphere, unfinished, to show the infill pattern. II had some difficulty with the sphere placement but eventually got there. I think my final artefact turned out very well as not only does it demonstrate what I’ve learned, but does it in an aesthetic way.