July 8, 2015 | By Simon

Unsurprisingly, some of the most memorable designed objects are those that combine both natural elements - such as through the use of biomimicry - with technology.  Ultimately, the resulting pieces are a symbol of both a timeless natural world and the result of human evolution.  In recent memory, additive manufacturing has had a significant contribution towards the latter.  

More recently, NOWlab - a Berlin-based interdisciplinary design studio founded by Jörg Petri and Daniel Büning in 2014 - combined both the natural world with modern technology in their latest design, the ‘Glacier’.  The Glacier is a stool design that takes its form inspiration from the melting ice structure of the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska and is produced using additive manufacturing.     

The Mendenhall Glacier - which measures a staggering 12 miles long - is situated just north of Juneau on Alaska's Alexander Archipelago.  The site is frequented by hikers, photographers, artists and designers and others seeking inspiration from the unique ‘cool’ colors produced by the glacier thanks to the low northern light.

When adventurous visitors step inside of the glacier, every stage of the water cycle is visible.  These stages include the freezing of liquid into snow, which is compacting into ice, which eventually melts and becomes evaporated into clouds - which ultimately shape the interior structure of the glacier.


Inspired by the resulting interior structure of the cave and the constant water cycle process, Petri and Büning collaborated with large-scale 3D printer manufacturer BigRep to produce a single-piece 3D printed stool design that is based on the results of a similar digital simulation process that allowed the designers to determine the allocation of stresses within the geometry.  

The resulting stool is made from biodegradable filament and highlights how biomimicry can extend beyond just the aesthetics of a product and actually provide inspiration for product performance, too; the resulting structure features an integrated three-dimensional microstructure which provides the most amount of support with the least amount of weight and material.    

“We are always fascinated by the intelligence, simplicity and beauty of nature’s evolutionary procedures, to create complex hierarchical systems of all scales, in which structural and functional behavior is intertwined in a perfect symbiosis,” says NOWlab.  

“From an ecological sight, those natural structures are always characterized by an optimized quotient between multiple performance criteria and a least material usage. The concurrent development of digital technologies allow us to better analyze those biological systems and establish novel workflows that enable a controlled re-creation of those multi-layered systems by the utilization of modeling, simulation and fabrication.”

Although they may not have designed the concept for the stool, the production of it wouldn’t have been possible without the aid of BigRep, who boast having the largest FFF (FDM) 3D printer on the market - the BigRep ONE.2 - which has a build volume (1m³) that’s 27 times larger than that of a large desktop 3D printer.  

While the stool is currently in a prototype stage right now, NOWlab is looking into ways of working with BigRep to produce on-demand 3D printed furniture that takes its cues from nature.  


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



Maybe you also like:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to

3ders.org Feeds 3ders.org twitter 3ders.org facebook   

About 3Ders.org

3Ders.org provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive