May 5, 2015 | By Alec

It hardly needs repeating here that 3D printers are excellent manufacturing tools, but most of us are typically limited by the constraints of plastic materials and the size of the print beds we make them on. We are therefore very intrigued by a new design approach developed by a team of Australian architects and designers called Nüdel. In a nutshell, it uses regular FDM 3D printing as the main ingredient to design solid, sturdy and futuristic constructions of literally any size.

So what is Nüdel? Well in a nutshell it simply consists of solid, small plastic connectors that can be easily modified to be used in any creation and with as many connecting slots as you need. While these are quite small and easily 3D printed, the real magic happens in combination with thin struts made from very solid Tasmanian Oak. The result is an architectural design system that can be used to quickly give physical shape to highly complex digital designs in literally any shape and size. Instead of being limited by the size of your print bed, you’re actually limited by the size of your living room or garage.

In the words of Australian founder and architect Tim Black, Nüdel is a revolutionary making system. ‘Nüdel is a making system; it allows users to create and upload their own unique designs and order them as a kit-of-parts comprising 3D printed connector components (nodes) and timber dowel members (struts). Nüdel has been created for makers, hobbyists, designers, and tinkerers for making custom constructions, models, prototypes, or sculpture,’ he explains. ‘Nüdel aims to overcome several barriers to creating your own large scale custom 3D constructions, namely; cost, transportability, and complexity. 3D printing alone is not well-suited to such assemblages due to cost of production and transport.’

The idea is that Nüdel solves these problems by optimizing and minimizing construction to the connectors that can be easily shipped and produced. These large scale designs are thus effectively flat-packed for shipping and can be reassembled as easy as an Ikea kit. ‘First you create a 3D model of your design & upload it, or select one from the community library to evolve. Nüdel will then analyze your design, verify, optimize, and adapt it for construct-ability. Automatic pricing allows you to modify designs to suit your needs before ordering. We’ll then print your custom components and ship them to you for assembly at home or the office,’ Tim explains.

However, this is much more than just a handy solution for giving shape to things, as it is also a potentially huge and digital community platform for collaboration and creation. ‘We aim to provide  community members with an accessible and flexible online platform for creating large scale sculptures, constructions, installations and spaces,’ Tim adds. ‘The system simplifies the making process by bringing together in an online environment advanced parametric modelling, optimization and geometric validation processes, and the automatic production and delivery of custom components, as well as assembly instructions.’

In other words, Nüdel thus seeks to create a creative platform that will rely on open-source development to make design more effective and easier than ever before. ‘We see a future where users share and adapt each other’s designs in an evolving conversation that continuously re-imagines what Nüdel is and what it can be used to make,’ Tim adds. It could thus almost be seen as Thingiverse for architectural structures relying on connectors. ‘Over time, Nüdel will look to build the library of available components to suit the community demands and needs.  We've already tested a range of alternative strut components and have successfully prototyped infill panels as well.’ Tim explains.

The entire concept is remarkably simple and yet very impressive, but unfortunately it is still a concept for now. Tim and his Australian developers (including designers, architects, educationalists, academics, and engineers) have been working hard on the core technology, but they need the funds to develop the web environment and verification and optimization processes that are key to the entire concept.

To that end, they have just launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $50,000 AUD (or approximately $40,000) by the 31rst of May. While an ambitious sum, this clever concept does seem to have what it takes to succeed. If you agree, you can go to their Kickstarter page here and support them in their endeavor. And of course, pledging enough will ensure you get your hands on a Nüdel set as quickly as possible ($15 AUD is enough for a basic set). So be sure to check it out!


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Joan Brauer wrote at 8/21/2015 6:06:52 PM:

Can you make a plastic screw 2 7/8" long, 5/8" wide with fifteen threads 1/16+1/32" wide and the spacw between threads the same? I need 31 of them to put my shelving back together. I bought the screws and spindles back in the 70s and in this last move the movers lost the screws.

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