May 16, 2014

Earlier this year, Dutch designer Joris Laarman unveiled groundbreaking MX3D-Metal, an industrial robot that prints with metals, such as steel, stainless steel, aluminium, bronze or copper without the need for support-structures. By adding small amounts of molten metal at a time, the MX3D-Metal is able to print lines in mid air. The team has also developed different kinds of print heads and printing strategies for the different kinds of metals.

At the time, the MX3D-Metal can only print objects with rough edges, but this method can create structures of almost any size and shape and it could lead to a new form language that is not bound by additive layers. Now, three months later, Laarman opened up a new exhibition at Friedman Benda gallery in New York called "Joris Laarman Lab: Bits and Crafts", based around the theme of digital fabrication and generative design tools.

The exhibition comprises four thematic explorations; Maker furniture; Micro Structures; Vortex; and Spirographic. The artist employs cutting-edge tools, from CNC mills to 3D printers, to enable new shapes and explore the endless new possibilities of the digital revolution.

"When people think of digital fabrication, they usually think of 3D printing," Laarman said to Coolhunting. "We were all a bit bored with all the tiny keychain-sized things people were making so we really tried to push it to a higher level by using real materials like wood and metals."

Born out of disagreement with the limited bounding box and poor material choice of many today's digital fabrication methods, Maker pieces are built from many parametric parts engineered to fit exactly like a 3 dimensional puzzle, each piece is either 3D-printed or computer numerical control (CNC) milled, depending on the material. For example the black and white Maker Chair is generated out of a single shape divided into 202 3d jigsaw puzzle parts. It is composed of 77 pieces and made on a 3D printer using ABS plastic. The chair can be manufactured in about 10 days starting at 30$. The multiplicity of small elements enable greater freedom and complexity of shape, and it is also strong, snaps together easily and inexpensive.

The centerpiece of the show, the 12 x 8-foot Dragon Bench, is manufactured using the MX3D printer (MX3D-metal). Small amounts of molten stainless steel are printed mid-air, enabling Laarman to draw lines in space, at times complexly intersecting. The printed shapes are based on algorithms and non- repetitive parametric modules so the generated forms are unique.

Open Source Design

Laarman's lab plans to publish digital blueprints on its Bits & Parts website accessible to all. The blueprints are open for people to change, modify and creating themselves, thereby offering an entirely new paradigm for manufacturing and distribution. The Maker puzzle chair is the world's first crowd fabricated prototype, so anyone will be able to download and replicate on their home printer for just $30~50 material.

Bits & Parts aims to utilize small 3dprinters and cnc milling machines to fabricate full size affordable furniture available to all. By fractioning designs into many small parts we were able to radically expand the potential of small consumer 3d printers and cnc milling machines.

"Everyone who says 3D-printing is just pressing a button doesn't really know how it works," Laarman said. "That's not really the point [of digital fabrication]—to have it not work without humans involved. It's more to have it customizable and to be able to produce things locally without all of the shipping of the industrial system," he added.

Bits & Parts is a work in progress project and we invite all makers around the world to help improve the designs creating the most efficient, beautiful, comfortable, fully recyclable furniture in the world that can be produced locally. To make this project a success we have to radically reduce cost and scale up an automated fabrication process. Our development goals range from optimizing the designs to fully automated mass digital fabrication units to streaming fabrication from the cloud.

"Joris Laarman Lab: Bits and Crafts" is on display at the Friedman Benda gallery in New York. The exhibition runs though 14 June.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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Tom Freitag wrote at 5/19/2014 9:16:17 PM:

Wow this is really inspiring. I like the idea of dividing bigger surfaces in smaller pieces. Thanks!

Tom Freitag wrote at 5/19/2014 9:15:27 PM:

Wow this is really inspiring. I like the idea of dividing bigger surfaces in smaller pieces. Thanks!

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