New Making Projects

The “Bandfest” Project

Bandfest bands are an exciting departure from paper tickets for the Edinburgh Festivals. These souvenir bands have been developed to be used both as the ticket to any specific event and as a means of gaining public reviews of each show.

After a talk by Joshua Ryan-Saha’s visiting to give our class information on the Edinburgh Festivals to be deeply intriguing I got to thinking about how I might develop a souvenir for this project. When he mentioned that one thing they found almost impossible was gaining reviews from the public; I knew this had to be my project’s focus.

I began brain-storming measurable festival data, thinking about how I might be able to gain reviews when they previously had been unable to do so, while also being able to create something that could be a souvenir.

Ideally, I wanted to create an object which generated the review data while also being the customer’s ticket and souvenir.

Before beginning my research I asked myself these questions:

How can a ticket be a souvenir?

What form would best suit a ticket & souvenir hybrid in a traditional craft & digital fabrication blended product?

How can a ticket generate data?

How can a ticket generate a review?

Can I keep the design environmentally friendly?


How can a ticket be a souvenir?

Many people keep their ticket stubs and pin them up on their walls or paste them into scrapbooks. I would consider this to be a self-generated souvenir of an event. I liked the idea of the ticket itself being the souvenir and wanted to stick to this within my project. 

What form would best suit a ticket & souvenir hybrid in a traditional craft & digital fabrication blended product?

I looked into digital tickets but decided that I wanted a physical souvenir so e-tickets weren’t the direction I wanted to go in. I began looking into collectables and crazes. When I was in high school (in the 90’s) gummies were all the rage. We used to wear hundreds of thin silicone bracelets and collect interesting coloured ones. These days gummies are still around but more often worn are much flatter and usually stamped or embossed version. These bands are usually momentos of donating to charity, running a race, a rally/special cause etc… and are both highly collectable and easily distinguished from other arm-wear.

I also briefly looked into the slap band craze but decided I wanted something that once on, would stay on. Plus through repeated use, the slap band type product could warp which isn’t what I want for my product.

I had a few traditional choices here, bead-working, silver-working or leather-working. I decided to go with leather-working as it’s a material I have always wanted to have the opportunity to work with and leather would blend really nicely with digital fabrication processes of laser cutting and engraving, blending both the traditional crafting and digital manufacturing processes together.

How can a ticket generate data?

My first idea was having something on my wrist-band that was detachable and colour-coded and could be left at the venue. This could then be counted up — each colour meaning a different number of stars and therefore giving the event staff an accurate and legitimate set of public reviews in numerical form. The event-goer on the other hand would then have a space left in their wrist-band which showed how many stars they had rated the show, giving further value to the souvenir.

After thinking about this idea more I decided it wouldn’t be as good an idea as I would like because the pieces that could be popped out and left (5 of them) could perhaps dislodge themselves and be lost afterward or perhaps during the show meaning that the wearer would no longer have the ability to give an accurate review.

I did not want to try for a lengthy review at the venue as it would likely cause congestion of people coming in and out o the shows which would both make following shows late and most likely put people off of giving a review.

RFID tags

Each band will be fitted with an RFID tag allowing fastback entry into the booked event. The small square on the right side of the band is where this tag will go. It can simply be touched to a scanner in the same manner as you would tap a bank card to use contactless payments. This keeps the movement of people into an event more efficient and also allows for data capture of numbers without manually adding people in. These tags will also be scannable at special booths where festival goers upon leaving a venue can give their star rating and receive a custom star-charm upon receipt.


Having decided that the pop out pieces from the bands were not a good idea, I ruminated over how else to solve the problem. I  thought it might be quite nice if (in the same way that you would scan the RFID tag on the “Bandfest” band to enter the event) You could scan the band on a machine and select a number of stars to give your review, gaining a star-charm once submitting the review containing the number of stars you rated the show. This would again tie in the traditional craft of bead-working along with the leather laser cut stars and would further add value to the souvenir. 

Can I keep the design environmentally friendly?

This question is one I feel every designer should take great care over. I had decided that I would try for leather as the material is warm and ages beautifully. It both cuts cleanly and engraves beautifully so it was the ideal material for my purposes. However, it should be noted that the product could be made from Pleather/PU Leather to lower the carbon footprint. I made the Bandfest bands out of real leather as I prefer the material to work with and could not get a hold of high enough grade vegan leather within the 6 weeks of this project so couldn’t do a comparison.

In the original design I meant for each festival to have a different colour of band. This still could be done but thought would have to go into the extra carbon impact of these extra processes.

Making the “Bandfest”bands

After creating the paternities in AutoCAD and converting to dxf format, the bands were laser engraved and cut. The leather took quite nicely even when I had problems with the file due to a clash during transfer. I would have preferred the engraving to have been a little brighter on some of the bands, but other than that I was pleased with how they turned out.

I tried a couple of different joining methods for the bands including two twisted cords and a Celtic plait in an attempt to make the closing attachments more decorative. However, I didn’t like how stiff the band became. I wanted it to remain soft and flexible. Another concern was that many sizes would need to be made to fit many wrist sizes which most likely wouldn’t fit well for a lot of people. Because of this I opted for an adjustable double sliding knot closure. This means that the band will fit a far wider variety of wrist sizes.

All in all I am quite pleased with the look and feel of my project. I think it could be a legitimate option for something like the Edinburgh Festivals which would generate the data they desire and also simultaneously be a collectable souvenir for the festival-goer.

New Making Projects

Data Driven Imagery

This collection of souvenirs revolves around an image that has its hierarchy determined by the quality of each individuals experience represented through sound data. The image will use visual cues to activate the user’s memory as well as acting as promotional material for the festival.

It’s very easy to slap on a star review without really thinking. A more accurate way of evaluating a comedian’s performance is how much they can get the audience to laugh. Laughter can be quantified relatively easily through decibel levels. The decibel level will be affected by both the quantity and intensity of laughter which correlates relatively accurately to enjoyment levels and quality of the show. If more people are laughing more frequently than the average decibel level will be far higher than only a few people laughing occasionally. This will be represented on your personal experience image.

As the audience arrives to each venue and has their ticket scanned, they are automatically checked into the event and will have the audio recording data added to their online profile. The data is collected by recording the audience and converting the audio file into numerical data (decibel levels). The data is moderated to account for the audience size and is then used to scale the respective shows graphics proportionally. At the end of the festival you will receive an email with a visual representation of your experience. You are given an opportunity to have your image printed onto a range of products including posters, post cards, drink bottles, and phone cases. Giving people an option to choose a souvenir that they actually want will greatly reduce the wastage that is inevitably created from using the one ‘size fits all’ approach to souvenirs. This system also allows people to look at their data, remember their experience, and share it with others without needing to manufacture an unwanted artefact.

Being able to collect and analyse data instantly means that these ‘real reviews’ can be displayed around Edinburgh and help guide people to see things they otherwise might not have. It also encourages healthy competition between the performers and has the potential to create better atmospheres in venues.

This process brings the word of mouth to the digital age, which is great news for up and coming performers. Although a performer may initially have small crowds it rewards them for making people laugh and may in tern help them get the respect they deserve.

New Making Projects

Making Mementos With Modern Methods

Over summer I spent the majority of my time working as a bartender and found it to be one the most enjoyable and fulfilling experiences that I’ve had in all of the time that I’ve spent in Edinburgh over the last three and a half years. I made some great friends, shared countless amazing experiences and learned valuable skills across 10 weeks; once it came to an end and I left The Voodoo Rooms, I wanted something to take away with me as a way of remembering my time spent there. After my last shift I took an empty bottle of Buffalo Trace Bourbon (the collective favourite shot of the staff) and a bottle of Peroni (my regular after work staff drink) signed by everyone that was on shift that day. At the time that seemed like a fitting couple of items to take away with me but, whilst both items hold sentimental value, I figured these are things that I could have just bought from anywhere and that, after a while, they would just become bottles I had picked up along my way through working life.

It struck me that if I could take the things that reminded me most of a certain period of my life and turned them into something with purpose, then maybe their sentimental value would possess more longevity. As it stood, the things I’d taken away with me were essentially just items to be stored away, hoarded as such; I wanted them to be things I could genuinely treasure that I would feel necessary to take with me wherever I go from here. I wanted to essentially see if I could replace some of my everyday household items with creations that held sentimental value.

It was at this point that I realised this was something I had already done somewhat in my own home. I’d begun using my favourite bottle of wine as a vase for flowers and bottle of gin as a lamp (using a USB cork light).

From here I decided to pursue the idea of more artistic and abstract ornamentation; using 3D scanning and printing as the delivery method. My thought behind this was that the more I could make my mementos look like a household item the more personal, or private, value they would hold. I took a couple of other bottles and mementos I had obtained over the past couple of years and took them to UCreate workshop to see what results they drew from the 3D scanning equipment they have; specifically intrigued by the effects reflective surfaces would have on the scan results.

As I somewhat expected, the scans on glass returned the most interesting results. The scans were somewhat distorted and, whilst they resembled the objects they represented, there were clear disparities between said scans and reality. From here I headed to MeshMixer to see if I could distort the scans into something that I could take to the 3D scanners and produce something of use to me.

One of the things I really liked that came out of the scans that weren’t a part of the original items was the texture that the distortion produced and I thought, once printed they would make for really interesting pieces, regardless of what they were eventually used for.

I worked briefly with foil on my original items to see how well that worked as a reflective and decorative material, as I wanted to keep the element of reflectivity that they held in my 3D printed models. Unfortunately said models are yet to be produced so a finished article is yet to be available.

New Making Projects


MyTartan is a project which takes numbers and data gathered from the Edinburgh fringe festival and turns it into a memorable souvenir. As a local of Edinburgh, I see countless tourists from all over the world seeking to find a long forgotten relative or clan. They are all seeking to find some kind of belonging and affinity to this incredible city. I also understand the marvellous, creative nature of the festival and the attraction it is to all peoples from around the world. MyTartan is a memento which will have a lasting effect in peoples memories as they come and experience what Edinburgh (and Scotland) has to offer. I also want them to connect in a personal manner with the city and build up an emotional attachment.

Taking the grid coordinates for festival venues visited, numerical data (of the coordinates) becomes the input for CMYK colour codes. This is a great way of converting numerical data into something real and tangible. When choosing what colours should go where and how much there should be, it was best to let the data decide, therefore the addition of peoples experience helped to direct this. 

The pre-existing fringe app, users will be able to directly record their locational data (grid coordinates) within the “MyTartan” page. The user function is simple and easy to follow with only a couple of buttons to click. By clicking the ’ADD’ button, this will record the precise location of  where you have been. The rating tab is used to rate shows which you have seen based on an ‘out of five stars’ system.

Once the visitor has been to the venues they want and are ready to go back home, they will receive their own unique tartan, and a small swatch will be sent home too.

Small number of existing tartans in shop

Now there are a few possibilities of what can happen with their tartan while still in Edinburgh. Going into a local business with your tartan, it is possible to have an item of clothing made with their unique design. Places such as Balmoral Cashmere, The Tartan Weaving Mill Experience, and a whole host of kilt makers in the city, are viable options for products to be made.

Another possibility is for MyTartan and other local producers, such as Edinburgh Gin, to collaborate and print special, one off labels or bottles with your individual tartan on it. This will hopefully increase revenue and tourism within the city.

There is something really special, meaningful, and personal with MyTartan which will hopefully provide the best memories of Edinburgh and the fringe. To have your own tartan will also instil a sense of belonging and build an attachment with the city.

New Making Projects

Skin Crawling Device

Having never been to the Edinburgh Fringe festival myself, I was amazed to learn about the millions that flock to edinburgh each year. In 2018 2.7million tickets were sold at the Fringe alone. Despite being a successful attraction, bringing in lots of jobs and financial growth to Scotland, I couldn’t help but question the issues regarding this mass growth of the population. 

What stood out the most to me was the desruption to daily life. In a variety of news articles, Edinburgh Fringe is compared to a ‘theme park’, which highlights the extent of change Edinburgh endures, which the locals also have to endure. 

The idea of having to go about your day but being burdened with trying to avoid the crowds of people outside your front door almost made my skin crawl. I felt an overwhelming amount of sympathy for the locals.

I wanted to move away from the idea of creating a souvenir for the fringe and focus on creating a device specifically for the locals. I wanted to create a handheld device that locals would take with them they left the house. This device would act as a warning for when they are approaching an over populated area.

Using GPS, the closer the device gets to a crowd of people will determine how quickly the skin will ‘crawl’.

The idea of trying to replicate skin came from the initial idea of trying to mirror some sort of physical aspect of walking through the streets of Edinburgh during the fringe. ‘People’ as a whole are mirrored through this flesh like material.

The skin was designed to create levels of creepiness, data therefore is measured in terms of creepiness. The creepier and more grotesque the device becomes, the larger the crowd that approaches, the more put off or ‘grossed out’ the locals become and more aware that they should avoid the area in front of them.

Servo motors on the inside create the movement of the skin

Using Arduino I was able to program the servo motors to simply move up and down creating the pulling and releasing of the skin which then creates the allusion that the skin is crawling.

Using the skills I had learnt from the previous project in Meshmixer, I was able to manipulate and create a base for the device that mirrored that of organic matter. The lumps and bumps further mirror the clusters of overpopulated areas.

Skin trials:

I experimented with both latex and silicone and found that latex had the best physical properties that mirrored that of human skin. Using foundation I was able to replicate similar skin tones and create a more realistic interpretation.


Make It Memorable

Light installation at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh

‘Make it memorable’ is a collaborative art installation where people come to share their memories of the festival placing concealing them in tubes within the installation.

The data is used in a way that gives people complete control of what they wish to share whilst remaining anonymous among other contributions.

It shows how data can become something beautiful and inclusive, allowing for people to connect their stories and experiences together as one. The installation then becomes a memorable souvenir within its own right.

At night, the installation comes alive; a correlation between colour with positive or negative emotions and experiences. Individuals will be asked to choose a colour to illuminate their tube which best represents their written response. This turns the installation into a live physical data representation of the participants individual experience of the festival.

In the duration, a time-lapse will be generated to show the progression of people adding to the installation, which can be sent to every participant if they wish to keep the souvenir digitally. The installation can be dismantled and reassembled, whilst also reusing the tubes in a bid for slowing consumption and reducing waste.

The project we have been given is how data can be used to inform the purpose of a souvenir. My research led me to look at ways of how a souvenir can become more than a object, focusing on the overall experience that remains when visiting the Edinburgh Festivals. A souvenir is:

“something you buy or keep to help you remember a holiday or special event

Fleshing out ideas of how to represent a souvenir

One issue of this project is how to represent data in a non-invasive manner keeping people in control of what they share. Could a souvenir be represented through art installation using dynamic responses such as light to represent the data? I abstracted the meaning to redefine the words ‘data and souvenir’.

Development of the tube used to conceal the memory data

I designed a tube in Fusion360, with  ~110 mm length and ~35 mm diameter, to accommodate a scroll of paper but small enough to have thousands of these tubes attached to the installation.

The tubes would be clear acrylic or toughened glass with a simple engraved design on the outter part. This added an aesthetic and also acts as a grip.

The tube consists of two separated chambers, the lower chamber conceals the LED light, leaving the upper chamber for the paper. Two lids seal both chambers.

I then 3D printed the tube, which didn’t work as planned. The bottom chamber cracked as there wasn’t a complete void extrusion in the lower half, I drilled a hole in to see if it worked. Due to the chemical components of the piece, its flexibility meant that a precise hole could not be created, which the crack appeared. The upper part of the lids also were too thin (1mm) which made them break.

I fixed the void extrusion and the thickness of the lids with more success on the second print.

It’s also worth noting the tubes were clouded on the inside and so toughened glass would be a more suitable material for transparency.

I wanted something such as tubes that people can place their memories and experiences into. This required a sculptural body in which the tubes can be inserted. This would be constructed from aluminium mesh with supports for the tubes welded in place. The height of the installation would be 2100 mm (standard door height) allowing taller people to reach the top whilst walking freely underneath.

Once each person has written their memory, they are prompted to choose a colour that represents their shared memory via LED lights.
A map of Edinburgh using the Royal Botanic Gardens as the location of the installation

After much deliberation, it was suggested that the Royal Botanic Gardens would be a prime location for the installation. There needed to be a secure location that would help divert people away from the city centre whilst still remaining central to the city.

The Royal Botanic Gardens. Image sourced from online

The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, also allows for people to submerge themselves within nature, a welcome respite from the hubbub of crowds in the city centre. The Gardens lock up at night, keeping the installation away from theft and vandalism- a concern that if the installation were in an open square, its fate would follow.

Installation at night
Final Prototype of tube

Thank you for reading.


“Could I be a Green Cup” Data-Driven Souvenir Design

Student No. 1942670

Project Brief

As the number of visitors to the Edinburgh festival increases year by year, the amount of garbage and waste gas generated during the festival has increased year by year. The souvenir aiming to improve the environmental awareness of tourists and encourage them to save energy and reduce emissions.

This project is a souvenir cup design based on the parametric design method. It records visitors’ data during the Edinburgh festival and physicalizes it to be a unique festival souvenir.

How to collect data from visitors

Data Physicalization

I visualize the data for three different colour points in grasshopper. If the users visit Edinburgh in a green way, they could earn many green points and the pattern would be covered by more green cells. The following work all based on this parametric pattern, which means all factors are changeable and keep changing as a whole.

Next steps, I covered a cup-shaped surface with that 2D pattern, then I offset the surface to be a brep.

Frames & Cells

At first, tourist could buy a white frame cup in a souvenir shop. Then they could download the app for it, and collect points on the app. Finally, visitors could exchange their points for coloured cells and embed those cells into the frame. They can have a green Edinburgh trip to gradually finish the cup.

Move to recyclable trash collection points to get special points!

When people recycle an object in the collection points, they will have a special cell with Edinburgh landmark patterns recorded into their accounts. After they finish their trip, they could go to the gift shop again to obtain cells using their points on their accounts.

Hypothetical users


Digital Chinese Whispers

Digital Chinese whispers explores the translation of a traditional making process to digital fabrication. The experiment uses an iterative process as a device to explore the relationship between an artifact and its material. In this case, clay throwing and 3D printing were combined to create a new and exciting process. Throwing clay is one of the most hands on and skill dependent forms of making. Digital fabrication on the other hand is automated and can be completed with minimal knowledge of the process. Although ceramics are often seen to have a more premium finish than plastics, 3D printing, like all other forms of fabrication has its own characteristics which should be celebrated. Scanning and printing repeatedly allows for a form of digital evolution. Each process has its own glitches and idiosyncrasies which is then translated through iterations.

We have certain expectations of what characteristics materials will lend a form. What happens when we break it? Reproducing an artifact in another material often drastically changes the impact it has on the user.

Having a material in front of you that you can mold, change, shape, and reshape with real time and real-world feedback simply does not exist in the digital world. Similarly, the ability that digital methods have to instantly analyze and reproduce with immense accuracy is astonishing and unchallenged. Combining the two opposing methods was full of potential.

Altering parameters of scanners and printers provided a wider scope of results and gave glimpses of what may come from repeating the process multiple times. The more abstract outcomes often resulted from faster print settings and lower resolution scans as things were picked up or missed which gave the object the chance to evolve. Even the most subtle changes of texture or material between prints made you revalue the whole artifact. Furthering these experiments, I would delve deeper into the curious world of materiality and exploring the relationship between artifacts and their material.

New Making Projects

Experiments with concrete and 3D printing

How can I challenge the material properties of an old media? In this case, how can I take an ancient material like concrete – used extensively by the Romans – and test the boundaries of what is conceivably possible? Initial thoughts drove me to where I have seen concrete used before, particularly in building construction and the use of rebar to create reinforced concrete. The way in which steel and concrete support each other and cancel the others weakness shows why it is important for there to be amalgamations of material. Concrete has a relatively low tensile strength, but when joined with steel – which has excellent ductility – the concrete structure then has the tensile strength of steel within.

With this in mind, I considered how it could be possible to take concrete, and create forms which shouldn’t really be made with it. How could I take a particular aspect of one material and combine it with another so they are both supportive and dependant on each other? 3D printing ‘skeletons’ (or frames) is a great way to generate quick, complex and delicate forms. On the other hand, concrete is used in its masses as tough, strong, building blocks to establish towers which loom over cities. When combined we get objects which are fragile yet stiff, convoluted yet solid. The idea seems paradoxical yet interesting.

I made some test pieces which would give an indication of how both concrete and 3D printed skeletons would combine. I printed out a simple sheet of PLA with 5mm² holes in a grid pattern. Having holes makes the form much quicker to print. Dipping the PLA in fine aggregate concrete for different times – 3 seconds, 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 10 seconds with mixing – had changed adhering effects on the plastic, although not much of a difference. In each case, the holes were filled and ‘fleshed’ out, but the smoothest and best result came from mixing. I printed a Meshmixer version of the Stanford bunny which also had a lattice effect, but with holes around 10mm². This time, the gaps were too large for concrete to fill, resulting in only the frame being coated.

The first fully closed form to be made was a simple cylindrical cup shape. As with before, I used Meshmixer to lower the resolution and turn the solid piece to a mesh-like frame before 3D printing. Adhering concrete filled all the holes and gave it a solid, complete skin.

To test the boundaries, I created a helix form in fusion and then used meshmixer to turn the stl into a frame, then printed it. This form was a challenge as it consisted of compound curves and overhangs – neither of which are commonly possible with only concrete. Using gloves, I mixed the concrete by hand, then spread it over the 3D printed frame, resulting in a complex form made from concrete.

I’m not sure what the real life practicalities of this method of making is, but initial findings show the concept works and so can be pushed even further.

New Making Projects

Exploring possibilities with the 3D printer

Although in many ways this course was for me an exploration into combing materials to create new structures, new forms and new textures, it was also  about exploring the possibilities and limitations of the 3D printer. 

Before this course I had never attempted to use a 3D printer, its rigid style of formatting data into a physical thing was unsettling. 

I had always believed that the 3D printer lacked the organic and natural flare of craftsmanship. 

During the exploration period of this course I found myself drawn to the idea of natural forms and organic shapes which were closely inspired by artists such as Antony Gormley and Margaret O’Rorke who had played with this idea and transcended it through there use of sculpture. 

Antony Gormley
Margaret O’Rorke

From being inspired by this I then discovered the possibilities of organic shapes and forms that I too could create using 3D software. 

I converted simple primitive shapes into their wire frame version which I immediately took note of its similarities to a cell like structure. 

It was this organic scaffolding that I believed to be too complicated for the 3D printer to create without using support material. 

The slight over-hangings of the shape itself was also a worry of mine, would the print fail? Would the PLA droop down causing residing gaps which would deform the shape? 

Many Failed Attempts

After many attempts at printing this simple form I began to notice the changes that occurred with each iteration of the print. Although all attempts were programmed on the same file, not one iteration was the same, they were all unique. 

This could be for multiple reasons but I  believe that there is something organic and natural about this event which I believe to be quite interesting. 

To further enhance these already organic prints I combined it with a plaster mixture to explore the ways the two materials would react to one another.

The plaster in its most liquid state merely leaked through the holes of the wire frame and created a puddle beneath the structure. However as the plaster began to thicken it linked itself on to the frame creating  a thin coating which can be seen taking shape of the actual frame it self. 

With the combination of 3D print and a traditional practice I was able to further explore the possibilities of creating an organic form. 


Tensions with old and new…

(Final artifact)

For this project, we looked at how 3D fabrication and traditional craft methods could be combined to purpose a new and experimental materiality from it.

Initial thoughts and ideas…

(image 1) CNC cut Half-lapped Dovetail Joint in scrap wood

I decided to explore the theme of having a traditional craft, and then experimenting with how that could then be 3D printed using a variety of machines. I Found Japanese joinery of particular interest as it takes a great amount of skill and craftsmanship to create the intricate details and precision that is required for buildings or other structures. There is also an aesthetic as much as there is a function, there needs to be strength but equally a small amount of flexibility for the joints to move should there ever be an earthquake.

(image 2) Half-lapped Dovetail Joint – 3D printed

The images, show my attempt at using both CNC and 3D printing to create a half-lapped dove tail joint. I wanted to explore how two modern technologies through the method of traditional craft could combine together as one joint. I used Fusion 360 for the modelling and had no issues, until it came to the CNC machine. The CNC is limited to how much it can cut away due to its X, Y axis and round drill bits. This creates curves (radius depending on size of drill bit) and so it meant I could not fuse the two processes as one without there being some small curves.

(image 3) Curves can been seen in the corners
(image 4) Fusion 360 japanese joinery ready for 3D printing

Since realising the CNC machine is limited for what I wanted to try and achieve, I decided to experiment with some more complex forms to then 3D print.

(image 5) finished cross joint

I decided from here to avert my attention elsewhere as I felt slightly limited with my ambitions and the limitations CNC for woodcutting presented.

(image 6) Plasma Metal cutting stainless steel and 3D printing combined

As I adverted my attention away from Japanese Joinery, I started to look at how metal can be worked, and what is often considered possible in terms of size and scale on such an industrial piece of machinery.

I decided to further experiment with this juxtaposition of intricate pieces (joinery) and how that can be assembled in new ways whilst operating with robust machinery such as the Plasma cutter. I used AutoCad for the shapes and then proceeded to use the CNC plasma cutter.

Initially, my first experiments failed and fell through the gaps from the force. Still, I wanted to see how small and fine the detail could be until I achieved my goal (see image 6). however, I was still limited with fixing the pieces together as I had initially plasma cut the central circle piece out of stainless steel. There were no grooves for the pieces to slot into and so I commenced my ideas of how to hold the two together as follows:

  • weaving thread around each metal piece
  • gluing
  • sawing
  • soldering

None of these worked for a variety of reasons- the weaving was not strong and the pieces did not stay in place, gluing metal, even with super glue serves no purpose, sawing sort of worked…however it was extremely inaccurate, solder does not stick to steel as it turns out.

One other exploration I wanted to develop was how things can be joined but without the help of welding or combining two things together as one.

As sawing was my best option, I then thought about how other printing methods may just so happen to be extremely useful. As the steel is only 1mm thick, it meant that in order to create a slot, the other material also needed to be 1mm thick.

(image 7) TinkerCAD 3D printed disks

By using the 3D printer I did not need to create an infill due to the thinness of the steel structure being 1mm thick.

Final artifacts

(image 8)

Once I was successful with slotting the pieces into the 3D printed disk, I could then explore materiality and further investigate methods of weaving whilst using natural materials seen in image 8. A mix of wool roven was twisted and woven in and out of the metal piece then I secured the wool with hemp thread, which is a tough thread unlike twine that I used earlier on in the combining process. I used a back stitch technique that not only secures the wool but also creates linear lines up the sides, defining the structure.

(image 9) delicate ultra fine handmade paper

Still keeping the structure, I still wanted to investigate the relationship of how something robust and strong such as metal, can be interlaced with a material as delicate as fine handmade paper. It was difficult to pierce the paper with a needle but managed to successfully thread it through the small holes are the ends.

For me these two final artifacts are extremely valuable to my broadening of how traditional craft and modern 3D fabrication techniques can be combined to create something new.


Beneath the surface

Exploring the combination of digital fabrication with glass making

Frank Ren

In this project, I apply topology optimization and parametric design to explore the possibility of digital fabrication in product design. Then I use 3D printing and some traditional glass techniques to experiment and produce products。

Through the smooth glass surface, we can see the incredible structure brought by the digital design that flies in layers.

Firstly, I built a normal column in rhino and generate a triangle mesh. After that, I set a series of supports and forces with the material I wanted to use in the product developing.

Secondly, I use a plug-in software called Ameba to evolve the model. This app applies topology optimization to generate random structure under the restriction of supporters and forces that users set. However, the result of that is often an imperfect surface with many non-manifold edges, and it took me time to repair the mesh.

Thirdly, I use Meshmixer to further improve the model. I filled holes and polished the objects. I attempted to reduce the number of protrusions and amplitude of protrusions to minimize the amount of supporter used in 3D printing, in order to speed up the printing process.

After I got the 3D printed model, I went to the casting workshop to cast. The process was quite complicated. Simply speaking, the technique takes the advantage of the difference of melting points between plastic, plaster and glass to transform an object from a plastic form to a glass form.

After melting the plastic mould, I cleaned the plaster mould, then placed the prepared funnel and the measured glass together as shown in the diagram and put them in the furnace

Glass moulded after up to a week of firing and cooling. I removed the plaster and cleaned the model.

The most import step was polishing. Glass is very fragile, so I had to be careful.

The final output looks like a crystal!

The glass is delicate but also fragile, it is prone to accidents during the manufacturing process and causes it to be damaged. I was inspired by the traditional Chinese Kintsukuroi process to repair cracks with silver materials.