May 24, 2017 | By Tess

Over the next couple of days, visitors to the University of California’s Botanical Garden will be able to feast their eyes on something truly remarkable: a large-scale reproduction of a weaver bird’s nest. The intricate piece, which was realized by a team of architecture students from UC Berkeley and their professor Paz Gutierrez, was made using 3D scanning, 3D printing, and robotic weaving processes.

The project, entitled “Plant Fiber Enclosure: Origins,” was inspired by the weaver bird, which is known for creating the most intricate and elaborate nests of all bird species. Professor Gutierrez was drawn to the natural phenomenon as her architectural research is based on combining new and sustainable building technologies with traditional fabrication methods.

The nest project, in recreating the weaver bird’s nest with various technologies and natural materials, showcases one way that traditional and technological processes can be combined to create an architectural structure. Alternative construction methods are  becoming increasingly important in the face of climate change and dwindling resources. “It’s opening new paths for research in this area,” Gutierrez said of the 3D printed nest project.

(Image: UC Berkeley, Hulda Nelson)

Gutierrez’s students have been working on the oversized nest for two semesters, using their various skills in 3D scanning, printing, and robotic weaving to complete the project. The final piece, which weighs about 20 lbs and was based on a 3D scan of an actual weaver bird’s nest, is made up of 400 individual pieces, each of which consists of a 3D printed base, and robotically woven fibers.

Let’s take a look at the process in more detail. With the 3D scan of the weaver bird’s nest, the graduate students were able to identify patterns in its construction, which they then translated into a design algorithm. Then, having broken up the 3D model of the nest into printable segments, they used wood waste filaments to 3D print base pieces.

The team then fitted the 3D printer with robotic weaving arms, which proceeded to weave natural hemp fibers around each of the 3D printed bases. The construction of the individual pieces was completed at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design.

For the assembly of the 3D printed nest, the team of students worked with Deepa Natarajan, the Botanical Garden’s program coordinator, who helped to choose a location for the installation. The piece, which took two days to put together, is now temporarily on display in the garden’s conference center.

(Image: UC Berkeley, Taewook Kang)

Those interested in seeing the giant 3D printed bird nest reproduction will only have until May 25 to do so, as the University of Califronia’s Botanical Garden will be starting its summer programming next week.



Posted in 3D Design



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