ADAPTIVE MOLDS

WORKFLOWS FOR CUSTOMIZABLE PRODUCTION

2020

In Collaboration with Diego Pinochet, Alejandro Gracia-Zheng

Ceramic Material Processes | Harvard GSD

Instructor Nathan King

The strength of additive manufacturing technology lies in its geometric precision, re-programmability, and the reduction of formwork for parts. However, most AM technologies rely on horizontal layer-by-layer deposi-tion, requiring wasted support material for parts that are three-dimensional or possess overhangs. Using clay as a vehicle of exploration, we examine alternative forming techniques using molds as an accessory for designing and making. Molds allow for high volume production by unskilled workers but typically only produce many of the same part. The fabrication of molds is time consuming and, therefore, is not typically a viable option for models of customization. This project demonstrates a workflow that pairs additive manufacturing with reconfigurable molds to create variable three-dimensional parts. The control of part variation comes from the geometric control provided by CNC machines and the three-dimensional support provided by flexible molds and computational form finding processes. This fabrication process seeks an alternative for the production of customizable ceramic parts, with control in both profile and section, by reducing the amount of scaffolding material and time needed to make molds for complex and variable forms. 

SITE

The shell pavilion...

FORM FINDING

The Shell Pavilion is result of a month long workshop in Shanghai called Robotic Force between Tongji University, ETH, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The first half of the workshop used graphic statics to find forms in structural equilibrium with tools like Rhino Vault. These forms were then considered for discretization and fabrication. Using an ABB robotic arm to 3D print plastic, material testing occurred during the design development process to create a design feedback loop where form, material, and geometry effects were considered at both the local and global scale.

Our final form was driven by the requirements that we wanted it to fit within a circular baseplate, feel like an enclosure, and have parts that crossed over each other - all of this, using a few parts as possible. To do this we discretized the final form into seven developable strips using a technique that allowed double curvature to be created out of single curvature that appoximated double curvature.

We 3D printed these developable panels using the robot and were able to assemble them quickly and without much of the waste that comes with traditional scaffoding. We then applied three layes of brick on top of the plastic scaffolding - once dry, this brick acts in perfect compression and results in an ultra-thin but structurally stable shell structure.

MATERIAL STUDIES

The Shell Pavilion is result of a month long workshop in Shanghai called Robotic Force between Tongji University, ETH, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The first half of the workshop used graphic statics to find forms in structural equilibrium with tools like Rhino Vault. These forms were then considered for discretization and fabrication. Using an ABB robotic arm to 3D print plastic, material testing occurred during the design development process to create a design feedback loop where form, material, and geometry effects were considered at both the local and global scale.

Our final form was driven by the requirements that we wanted it to fit within a circular baseplate, feel like an enclosure, and have parts that crossed over each other - all of this, using a few parts as possible. To do this we discretized the final form into seven developable strips using a technique that allowed double curvature to be created out of single curvature that appoximated double curvature.

We 3D printed these developable panels using the robot and were able to assemble them quickly and without much of the waste that comes with traditional scaffoding. We then applied three layes of brick on top of the plastic scaffolding - once dry, this brick acts in perfect compression and results in an ultra-thin but structurally stable shell structure.

MOLLY MASON

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