Nov 3, 2015 | By Alec

When looking for a unique 3D printing project, you are usually forced to show off your own CAD skills, but Turkish architect and researcher Daghan Cam has recently been showing us that there's more than one way to create fantastic 3D printable designs. With the help of advanced algorithm-based computer simulations, he has trained image-processing robots to create complex 3D printable and highly artistic structures. Recently, this has already led to an amazing architectural creation, but Cam is now back for more with a team of his researchers, who have used the same principles to simulate cellular division in a 3D printed multi-material structure.

The architectural 3D printing project was developed over a 12 month Master Programme at the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture. Cam and Alisa Andrasek, director of Wonderlab, oversaw four Master's students in creating the 'White Rabbit – Alien Resolution' project, shown above, which takes the process of cellular division as its inspiration. Taking a cue from research by Andy Lomas, they have used GPU computing and Nvidia's CUDA programming model to generate complex architectural forms. As Cam tells, "[these forms] that are constrained by the limitations of robotic fabrication method."

The complex generated shapes have been subsequently 3D printed with a custom-built 3D printer, featuring a robotic arm and four different PLA extruders, each with a layer thickness of 3 mm. The scales are up to 2 meters, and the 3D printer can be seen in the clip below.

The GPU computing behind it relies on a graphics processing unit (GPU) and a CPU to accelerate scientific and engineering applications. Previously developed by NVIDIA and widely used at Boston Ltd, it is increasingly being used throughout the high-end design world. When combined with robotic fabrication and 3D printing, a world of incredibly complex forms can suddenly be quite easily created. Abstract forms suddenly become a creative goal in and of themselves, rather than 3D printing functional pieces such as furniture.

This is fairly evident in the gorgeous 'White Rabbit - Alien Resolution' project. This intriguing design process builds on a conviction that 3D printing technology and simulation offer new creative possibilities for the broad fields of design and architecture. "This research has embraced RC1's research umbrella of 'Increased Resolution Fabric of Architecture' by simulating a complex biological behaviour; embryonic morphogenesis," we are told. "The topological evolution process of the cell-division simulation, which is abstracted by object-oriented and parallel programming (GPGPU based on CUDA), has led to the synthetic design that integrates not only all structural elements such as columns, walls and ceilings but also ornamental elements such as a pattern and colour into continuous structural fabric."

But obviously the multi-material robotic extrusion system was also key in achieving such results. '[It materialized] the high-resolution complexity of design outcomes derived from the cellular division morphogenesis. Since in traditional way, different parts of architecture necessitate different materials, this experiment makes it possible to print all the parts simultaneously by changing the proportion of multiple materials," said Cam. "Aesthetic introduction of super high resolution introduces alien visual effects into the fabric of familiar host (architecture)." In the clip below, you can see both the shape generation process and this cool custom 3D printer in action.

The research team behind this project consists of students Danli Zhong, Jong Hee Lee, Ningzhu Wang, and Feng Zhou, led by their instructors Daghan Cam and Alisa Andrasek.

Cam is an architect with a very diverse background. The founder of architectural practice Daghan Cam Limited, with offices in London and Istanbul, he also teaches at UCL's Bartlett School of Architecture. Previously, he worked with Zaha Hadid Architects, and has taught extensively all around the world. With an M.Arch degree with Distinction from the Architectural Association (2012), he is something of an expert when it comes to computational design, robotic fabrication and large scale 3D printing.

Andrasek is an award-winning architect and researcher operating at the intersection of design, material and computer science. Also an instructor at Bartlett, she is the director of Wonderlab and founder of Biothing.




Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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