Sep 25, 2018 | By Thomas

Wellington, New Zealand-based industrial designer Nicole Hone reveals ‘hydrophytes’, a series of futuristic aquatic plants created with multi-material 3D printing. The hydrophytes are then activated by pneumatic inflation in water and transform into dynamic organisms. The goal of her work is to explore the design and choreography of movement through 4D printing.

"I have always been fascinated with nature; it inspires my design ideas and aesthetic," Hone told Colossal. "For this project, I became particularly interested in botany and marine life. I was amazed by the way sea creatures and corals moved and wanted to reflect similar qualities in my designs. During the early stages of test prints, I found that the materials performed smoother and more organically in water as fragile parts were supported better. At the beginning of my master’s project, I also discovered that there were plans to redesign the National Aquarium of New Zealand. I thought - wouldn’t it be really cool to have a future-focussed exhibition with moving models that visitors could interact with? This idea, combined with my personal interests and discoveries from the testing phase lead to the concept of futuristic aquatic plants - Hydrophytes."

The shape, surface texture, and internal structures for the Hydrophytes were modeled using rhino and grasshopper in combination with ZBrush. Each sculpture was 3D printed as one seamless object using a variety of UV light-cured materials on a multi-material 3D printer.

From her site:

The designs utilise Stratasys PolyJet technology that allows blends of rigid and flexible resins known as digital materials. Sealed chambers allow the 4D prints to activate independently through pneumatic inflation. The Hydrophytes illustrate a range of multifaceted, variable movements whose life-like qualities are unique to the behaviour of digital materials.

The jelly-like support material that encases the sculptures were then painstakingly removed by soaking it in water and cleaning it out with a toothpick. It was a 4-hour process. After cleaning, they were then placed in water and colored light is applied using a LED projector to complement the personality of each plant and enhance the perception of sentience.

These Computer-Generated Objects (CGO) take advantage of both the digital world, with its versatility and efficiency in form-making, and the physical world, where objects can respond to the environment, humans and other printed objects. This balance between controlled design and uncontrolled natural interaction leads to the creation of compelling organic performances.

“They can respond to external forces such as gravity, water ripples or currents, and interaction with people or other 3D prints in real life,” Hone said. “Their man-made composite materials behave uncannily similar to living organisms.”

The result is an immersive experience for the viewer, looking at seemingly organically moving lifeforms.

As Hone notes, her project presents the concept of ‘Tangible Animation’. The possibility of incorporating sensors, and 3D printing with smart materials can make the technology very useful for museums, theme parks, and the film industry.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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