Jun 4, 2015 | By Alec

As 3D printing technology is great for easily producing objects of all shapes and sizes hitherto impossible or very difficult to make, it is hardly surprising that the way we look at and use shapes also changes. While much of that happens without thinking about it, Dutch designer Foteini Setaki very consciously and critically approached the specific acoustic function of geometric shapes as part of her graduation project for the TU Delft a few years ago. And as her results showed, 3D printing technology could be used to optimize the sound absorption qualities of specific objects in homes, offices and elsewhere.

Since graduating, Foteini Setaki started a design studio called StudioPhi, through which she continues to question design techniques and explores new manufacturing and architectural options in a quest to find balance between aesthetics and engineering. 3D printing (or additive manufacturing) obviously plays a significant role in the future he envisions, and as such Setaki has already exhibited various fascinating 3D printed creations over the past few years.

As she explains to 3ders.org, her project graduate project Acoustics by Additive Manufacturing tackles a very specific question: can specific aesthetic (3D printed) shapes be used to optimize the acoustic function of objects? ‘Acoustics affect deeply the conscious or unconscious perception of space and at the same time, constitute important performance criteria for architecture. Offices, auditoriums, houses, public space; all kind of spatial settings offer and require their own unique set of acoustical parameters,’ she tells us.

As such, there is a significant future in design for shapes capable of creating acoustical solutions for all type of spaces. And 3D printing, she found, is perfect for creating unique and customized solutions for this problem. Throughout the project, Setaki researched the acoustic limitations of various shapes. ‘The research started with a set of physical tests that contribute to measuring and understanding the acoustic consequences of different geometrical configurations and material characteristics,’ she explains. ‘From the analysis of the measurements’ results derive the design rules of the sound absorber, which are then incorporated into the design process through parametric modelling and allow the design with performance driven criteria.’

But of course the departure point was always to investigate the merging fields of additive manufacturing and acoustics, so Setaki used the gathered design rules to create acoustic devices capable of regulating sound absorption simply through its geometrical characteristics. ‘The ultimate aim was to establish a new product where geometry, production technique and acoustic performance are inherently related and constitute integral aspects of the design process,’ she says. Passive structures, in short, capable of optimizing a room’s acoustics.

And as you can see in the clip above, this has resulted in some interesting creations, filled with 3D printed tubes capable of absorbing sounds. ‘The proposed sound absorber is conceived as an organic-looking structure that is floating in space and “grows” where sound absorption is needed. As a result, the generated geometry regulates acoustic performance according to the desired criteria and the acoustic demands of the examined space.’

If anything, it emphasizes what functions can be given to objects, from our lampshades to decorative artworks, through clever design and 3D printable design. While it will doubtlessly take a few years before such 3D printed shapes enter our homes and offices, it is certain that there’s a future for 3D printing in aesthetic and functional design as well.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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