Jan.8, 2014

Madeline Gannon, a doctoral student studying generative fabrication and computational design in the CMU School of Architecture, created a Reverberating Across the Divide project aiming to reconnect digital and physical contexts through a custom chronomorphologic modeling environment.

The process includes a three phase workflow (3D scanning, 3D modeling, and 3D printing) to enable a designer to craft intricate digital geometries around pre-existing physical contexts.

Using open-source software like Processing and Toxiclibs, Gannon designs a chronomorphologic modeling environment that creates intricate geometries by tracking an object's movement through space and time. These complex geometries can be then exported for 3D printing.

This digital-physical workflow begins in the scanning phase, which imports a physical context into the virtual environment. A depth camera translates a physical space or object into a three-dimensional point cloud. The point cloud is used as a persistent reference on which to base a digital design; it gives a sense of scale and materiality to an otherwise empty virtual space. The modeling phase creates an expressive digital form around the previously scanned context. The same depth camera is used to continuously capture a designer's realtime hand gestures. These gestures then manipulate an animate digital geometry within a chronomorphologic modeling environment. The designer aggregates the animate 3D model to create complex geometries around the 3D scanned context. The printing phase then translates the digital geometry into physical matter. Once the geometry is 3D printed, the digitally fabricated artifact can then be immediately embedded into the physical environment.

In the video below, Gannon designs a squid like form, which through interaction with Kinect is pulled through space and time leaving traces to create intricate geometries around the form of a human neck. The geometries can then be 3D printed as jewelry.

Chronomorphology –– like its nineteenth-century counterpart chronophotography –– is a composite recording of an object's movement. Instead of a photograph, however, the recording medium here is a full three-dimensional model of the object - a virtual creature simulated within a digital environment. This virtual creature exists as a 3D printable module; it is constructed as a closed mesh, with a spring skeleton that prevents self-intersections. The composite, chronomorphologic model (of the virtual creature over time) retains these printable properties at each time-step. Therefore, no matter how intricate or complex, the digital geometry will always be exported as a valid, 3D printable mesh.

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