Nov 18, 2015 | By Tess

There is no question that 3D printing technology has opened new doors for designers, allowing them to create new shapes, and significantly, new interior structures for those shapes. German based startup NOWlab have taken the technology’s potentials in stride and have been creating some truly stunning pieces of 3D printed design that combine elements of nature with the new technology.

Last year, they garnered interest by designing and 3D printing a stool whose design was inspired by a glacier. The glacier stool utilized 3D design to incorporate a three-dimensional interior microstructure that allowed for the most support using a minimum amount of material. Now, they have just unveiled their T 1000 stool, an aluminium stool made from a 3D printed algorithmic mold.

As you may have noticed, their stool shares the same name as James Cameron’s T 1000 shape shifting android from Terminator 2: Judgment Day. This is not a coincidence, as the designers at NOWlab explain they were inspired by Cameron’s fictional android. NOWlab explain, “Deeply inspired by the ability of the 'T 1000' to quickly liquify and assume forms in [an] innovative and surprising manner, we were transferring this key behavior as a model of meaning for [our] latest project.”

The stool, which bears an unmistakeable organic design, combines processes of digital generative form-finding, large-format 3D printing, and traditional foundry work. The process of digital generative form-finding consists of using an algorithm to generate the most appropriate shape for a given load. In other words, the algorithm created by NOWlab creates an optimal shape that takes into consideration minimal material usage and maximal rigidity.

“Comparable to natural structures – such as trees – material is allocated in areas where it is structurally necessary,” explain NOWlab on their website. “The resulting organic shapes therefore share not only visual similarities with natural archetypes but they also have a comparable performance criteria in terms of a material to stiffness ratio.”

3D printing technology has allowed them to not only manufacture these complex designs, which include undercuts and inclusions, but to potentially allow them to create three-dimensional molds, opening the door for various other materials to be used for the final products. The mold for the T 1000 was made in collaboration with Voxeljet, a German based 3D printing company, which possesses one of the biggest 3D printers currently on the market, the VX 4000. With a build chamber of 4000mm x 2000mm x 1000mm, the VX4000 allowed for the mold to be printed in one shot.

With the mold manufactured, the stool itself was made in collaboration with Blöcher, a metal foundry. The final T 1000 stool was cast as a solid aluminium piece using the age-old method of foundry and works as a fully functional piece of furniture, suitable for both for indoor and outdoor usage.

“The T1000 project…was an intensive investigation on digital algorithmic design procedures in combination with large-format 3D printing technology to generate a previously unseen digitally informed furniture piece,” says NOWlab.

The T 1000 stool’s manufacturing is in line with the startup’s interest in exploring both new technological methods and traditional manufacturing practices. The result is an original and captivating design, the likes of which we have never seen before.

Berlin based NOWlab was founded in 2014 by Jörg Petri and Daniel Büning. Together they have explored and combined elements of architecture, contemporary computational design, and digital manufacturing technology.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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