Dec 24, 2015 | By Kira

Ceremonial maces—ornamented staffs of metal, wood or stone— date as far back as eight or more millennia, when they were used as weapons and carried into battle by kings, soldiers or mediaeval bishops. Today, the tradition of designing and creating highly ornamental maces remains, however rather than signifying battle, they are carried in civic or parliamentary processions to represent a high official’s authority. In the era of enlightenment, universities began to adopt the ceremonial mace as a symbol of the power of the academic quest for truth and wisdom and as a symbol of institutional authority.

Now, a new ceremonial mace designed for RMIT University of Technology and Design in Australia stands to combine historical symbolism with some of the most advanced computational design and additive manufacturing processes available today, creating a novel emblem for the university that is as deeply rooted in tradition as it is in new technologies. The new 1.2-meter-long titanium 3D printed ceremonial mace was unveiled last week at RMIT’s graduation ceremony in Melbourne, Australia.

Professors Scott Mayson and Roland Snooks of the School of Architecture & Design’s d___ Lab used a multi-agent swarm algorithm and selective laser melting (SLM) metal 3D printing technology, fusing titanium powders to create a highly intricate yet lightweight structure. The swarm algorithm was digitally optimized for the SLM process, eliminating the need to 3D print support materials. Additional algorithms were then written to remove non-buildable geometry and replace it with geometry the SLM could manufacture.

Once the intricate and ornate design was finished, it was sent to RMIT’s Advanced Manufacturing Precinct, where Professors Milan Bradt and Aaron Pateras used the facility’s advanced 3D printing machines to print the mace in four sections of variable length with unique saddle joints. Each saddle joint was then microscopically laser welded together, and the finishing touches, including primary surface polishing were completed by hand.

The finished mace totals 1.2 meters in length and, despite that impressive size, weighs in at only 1.6 kg, or 3.5 pounds. Additionally, despite lacking precious metals or flashy jewels like ceremonial maces of the past, the smooth titanium finish and incredibly intricate, mesh-like design makes RMIT’s mace a true work of art.

“The new RMIT Mace combines multi-agent algorithmic design research and 3D printing technology to create a new symbol for the university. The project draws upon the intricate and ornamental characteristics of historical mace and reinterprets these through computational design processes,” wrote Snooks.

Along with carrying strong symbolic weight for the University, the 3D printed mace also represents advances in digital design and metal 3D printing technology. And, when carried in future graduation ceremonies, it is something all RMIT graduates can proudly stand behind.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Alex wrote at 2/5/2016 3:54:27 PM:

Glad to having been part of this !

My Name wrote at 12/25/2015 8:07:06 AM:

That is beyond awesome I bet you could print out gravitational matrices like that.

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