Posted: December 6th, 2013 | Author: Jessica Rosenkrantz | Filed under: news, sale | No Comments »
We’re working hard to get your holiday orders to you on time. We recommend ordering as soon as possible if you want to purchase a custom design generated with one of our apps. Here are our deadlines to guarantee arrival before Christmas.Custom Designs
12/9order custom designs from our apps
(applies to nylon 3D prints only)
12/18 orders that ship by priority mail
12/19 orders that ship by express mail
12/11 orders that ship by express mail
(we cannot guarantee arrival for any other types of international shipping)
We also have a special holiday coupon for you. Use the code KINEMATICS in our shopping cart to take 15% off your total.
Posted: October 8th, 2013 | Author: Jessica Rosenkrantz | Filed under: 3dprinting, jewelry | Tags: brass | 2 Comments »
We recently prototyped some of our most popular 3d-printed jewelry designs in gold-plated brass. These are produced in the same way as our sterling silver designs. First, they are 3d-printed in wax at a high resolution. Then, they are cast in brass using the lost wax method. Finally, they are polished and plated with 22kt gold. We are not sure if we are going to add this material to our collection. But, the limited stock we have available is currently for sale in the Nervous System Etsy Shop. You can see the pieces we have available below.
Posted: October 4th, 2013 | Author: Jessica Rosenkrantz | Filed under: 3dprinting, jewelry | No Comments »
Organic branching forms emerge from the top of this intricate sterling silver ring. The complex structure recalls the forms of stony corals and dendritic crystals. Each ring is 3d-printed in wax, cast in precious metal, and then polished to a mirror finish.
This is the first piece in our Laplacian collection. Laplacian growth is a term that describes structures which expand at a rate proportional to the gradient of a laplacian field. This type of growth is seen in a myriad of natural systems, including crystal formation, stony coral growth, and the formation of lightning.
The ring is available in US ring sizes 5,6,7, and 8 in sterling silver for $300 and brass for $210. We currently have a silver size 7 in stock and the rest are made to order. The ring is in our shop here.
The growth process is a numerical model of 3D isotropic dendritic solidification, you can see a video of our system below.
Posted: September 30th, 2013 | Author: Jessica Rosenkrantz | Filed under: design, jewelry, nature, simulation, software | 1 Comment »
Folium is a generative jewelry series inspired by the algorithmic structures of plants and algae. Each Folium design is one of a kind, a specimen of a new hypothetical plant species. Free from the constraints of biology and physics, a Folium can exhibit forms and patterns impossible in nature.
Our first generation of Folium pieces is now available for purchase here:
Folium Pendants in stainless steel
Folium Pendants in 24kt gold plated stainless steel
Folium Earrings in stainless steel
This video documents our Folium growth process. (video not showing up? you can watch it here)
Learning from nature
One of our primary interests at Nervous System, is the systematic exploration of how pattern and form emerge in nature. We’re not interested in merely mimicking nature, instead we try to learn from it, co-opting its strategies of growth. The resulting mathematical models define broader principles that describe the dynamics of many systems.
similar patterns are exhibited by street grids (London), leaf veins, cracking patterns, and river deltas (Lena Delta)
Through code and design, we explore the question of how patterns emerge in nature. How can we use these same rules of growth for design? Digital manufacturing frees us from the rigid uniformity of mass production and nature suggests a new approach to manufacturing that produces diverse results.
the dissected leaf of Malva moschata
the form of Chondrus crispus seaweed (photo by Andrea Ottesen)
Folium is the result of a multistage digital growth process created by Nervous System based on L-systems and spatial colonization algorithms. Our system yields diverse results both in overall shape and texture. The variably branched forms of the generated Folia range from round to tree-like. Some recall the dissected forms of maple leaves while others can be likened more to the dichotomously branched forms of Chondrus crispus seaweed. Complex network patterns populate the interior of each Folium in several distinct styles that suggest leaf venation, city street grids, braided rivers, or other branched, anastomosed reticulations. The exterior boundaries influence the interior networks as they expand to fill the contours of the space available. Each specimen demonstrates a unique and dynamic interplay between its outer and inner growth systems with the result that no two shapes or patterns are alike.
examples of the range of interior network patterns
examples of the range of exterior shapes
L-systems + space colonization: simulating plant growth
Our system, written in the open source program environment called Processing, is based on two algorithms developed to model plant forms. The first and oldest is L-systems. L-systems were originally created by botanist Aristid Lindenmayer in 1968 to illustrate the morphology of various plants and algae. They are descriptive rather than emergent systems, meaning they describe what occurs rather than how it occurs. In general, L-systems are used to model recursive branching structures, like those seen in trees. We use a non-deterministic L-system to define the shape of each Folium. Each growth outlines new parameters that vary the detail and shape of a branching skeleton. This skeleton is then skinned with a smooth, organic surface.
dichotomously branch ferns like this are easily described by l-systems
The interior network pattern is generated with a more modern algorithm now known as space colonization, which was first developed by Adam Runions of the Algorithmic Botany Group in 2005. The system was originally inspired by the auxin flux canalization theory of leaf venation, but has since been expanded to describe other space-filling, hierarchical structures such as trees. This model starts with a set of attraction points that are distributed throughout space. Growth starts at the root and grows toward the attraction points affecting it, with each attraction point’s impact limited only to its close neighbors. This process of attraction and growth repeats until all space is evenly filled. Our system explores numerous parameters and modifications of this algorithm to generate various and distinct, often unnatural results.
For more information about our work with this algorithm please see this blog post: http://n-e-r-v-o-u-s.com/blog/?p=1218
About the jewelry
Folia are available as necklaces and earrings. Each piece is photochemically etched from a thin sheet of stainless steel and measures approximately 2 x 2 inches. The necklaces come with 16-18” sterling silver or gold-filled chains, and the earrings hang from hypo-allergenic surgical steel earwires. Since every piece in the collection is one of a kind, each receives its own unique identifying number and is individually photographed.
Folium pendants in 24kt gold plated stainless steel – click here to shop
Folium Earrings in stainless steel – click here to shop
Folium Pendant in stainless steel – click here to shop
Posted: September 23rd, 2013 | Author: Jessica Rosenkrantz | Filed under: 3dprinting, travel | Tags: shapeways | 2 Comments »
Last week, Jesse and I visited the relatively new Shapeways factory in Long Island City, NY. It was great to finally be able to see where our products are 3D printed. When we first started working with Shapeways, they were based exclusively in Eindhoven in the Netherlands. About a year ago, they opened up their first manufacturing facility in the USA. Duann Scott, designer evangelist at Shapeways and all around awesome guy, showed us around. Since not all of you can make it to NYC for a tour, I figured I would post some photos and observations here.
The factory is in a nondescript industrial building with no signage. After some stair climbing and hallway navigating we reach Shapeways. On first impression, everything is white. The floor is white, the walls are white, the machines are white, the 3D prints are white and to top it off a fine white powder of nylon coats every surface. The factory has three different 3 printing technologies on site: Selective Laser Sintering, full color zprinting, and multi-jet resin printing. I’ll describe their setup for all three processes.
Selective Laser Sintering
The Shapeways NY factory has a truly impressive number of EOS selective laser sintering printers at the factory. These are the machines that print all of the nylon (or “white strong and flexible” as Shapeways calls it) parts and thus a large proportion of everything we sell at Nervous System. They have two rooms of these machines. One with about 4 medium sized EOS SINT P 395‘s and one giant EOS SINT P 760. And another room of smaller sized EOS Formiga p110 machines. The smaller Formiga machines are the ones being used for Shapeways new fast turnaround time for orders of White Strong and Flexible models (ships in 6 business days) which explains why those quick ship times are limited to designs less than 20cm. Considering that each one of these printers costs on the order of a half million dollars….that’s a lot of SLS machines! Correspondingly, a lot of man hours seems to go into planning the print jobs for those machines. Orders from many customers are painstakingly and efficiently packed into the build volume of each machine.
a tiny EOS formiga machine (left), a funky dust proof keyboards that comes with the EOS machines
We were told that printing a full build on one of the EOS SINT P 395′s takes around 36 hours and up to 48 hours on the P 760. During the week, they tend to run smaller builds on the machines that take around 12 hours each. During the sinter process, the nylon powder is heated to just below melting point in the build chamber. That means there is less thermal shock when the laser selectively sinters the 3d print. But it also means that after printing each build has to cool down for the same number of hours as 3d print time. So when they print a 36 hour job, it has to cool for 36 hours. When you take into account the scarcity of printers, print time, cooling time, and then man hours to depowder and do quality control on the prints – I start thinking that 6 day turn around time is quite impressive. It’s hard to imagine them being able to do it much faster without dramatically raising prices to account for inefficient use of the build volume.
After cooling, the nylon parts go through 3 stages of depowdering including a round of bead blasting. If parts have been ordered in a polished finish, they are then added to a giant rotary tumbler with cylindrical ceramic media and a mild alkaline solution. After polishing, nylon parts are colored in acid dye baths in stainless steel kitchen pots on hot plates.
Multi-jet resin printing
The resin 3d-printers live in a room isolated from the nylon dust of the SLS machines. They appeared to have 4 or 5 Projet 3000 machines from 3D systems. These machines work by jetting two materials, a clear plastic resin and a wax support that is cured with UV light. Shapeways uses them to produce their FUD (frosted ultra detail) material. It seemed like the majority of parts being printed on these machines were very small (size of my fingertip) scale models. After printing, the plastic parts are embedded in a block of wax support material. To remove the parts, the blocks are heated in a kiln to about 68 C/ 150 F and then cleaned in an ultrasonic bath. They use tea strainers to hold the parts in the bath, but it still seems like it must be very hard to keep track of all the minuscule parts through the various cleaning and checking operations. At the end of the process, they dry the parts in a beef jerky dehydrator (not kidding).
the kilns for removing wax support (left), the beef jerky makers for drying the resin parts (right)
Full color zprinting
In yet another room isolated from the nylon dust, Shapeways NY has a single Projet 660 full color powder printer from 3D systems. This machine works off the inkjet-inspired process developed by Z Corp that binds white plaster powder by printing colored glue. The process can produce photo-realistic parts. In one room, they have the printer, a depowdering station and an infiltration station. When parts come out of the machine, they are quite fragile and must be infiltrated with a cyanoacrylate (super glue) solution to strengthen the parts.
The Shapeways LIC factory seems to have grown tremendously in it’s first year of operation. I was impressed to hear that all US orders of nylon prints are currently being produced there. That’s a huge step forward from a year ago when parts were being made at the Einhoven factory or being outsourced to other companies. The facility seemed well organized, with plenty of room for expansion should more machines be necessary. It seems like the main areas of difficulty are planning out printer builds (how to pack hundreds of designs from different people’s orders) and how to track the produced parts through quality control and shipping. Is anyone working on a good packing algorithm for 3d models? What about using computer vision to identify and check 3D prints? I’m sure Shapeways would pay well for that technology.
Thanks for showing us around Duann! And a special hi to our customer service rep at Shapeways, Gary!
this is Gary, our customer service rep
Posted: May 14th, 2013 | Author: Jessica Rosenkrantz | Filed under: events | No Comments »
In a few days we’re headed to New York City for our sixth International Contemporary Furniture Fair. We are exhibiting our work at booth 803 in the Javits Center from May 18th to May 21st. We’re also teaching workshops on 3D printing and product customization as a part of DesignX, a new ICFF event focusing on cutting-edge technologies. Please come check out our booth or our workshops!
Radiolaria Furniture App
We’re very excited to premiere the new version of our Radiolaria web app at ICFF; we’ve extended the app’s capabilities to allow anyone to design cellular furniture. We will have a computer in our booth where attendees can design their own tables and get instant pricing for their designs. The app is easy to use and flexible enough to create a diverse range of final products. Users dynamically sculpt the table’s patterned top, selecting which cells will hold plexiglass insets and which will remain open. They can also choose their table’s height, number of legs and finish. After an order is placed, we carve the table out of Baltic birch plywood with our CNC router.
We’ve been busy designing and fabricating example tables for our booth. You can see some photos below documenting our progress cutting the components for three tables with a ShopBot PRSAlpha Buddy CNC router last week.
We will also be presenting new additions to our family of generative lighting designs, including new pendant lamps and sconces. We’ll have 16 lamps of these one-of-a-kind lamps on display in our booth.
Finally, here’s a sketch of our booth design for this year. Keep an eye out for us as you explore the ICFF exhibits in the Javits Center!
Posted: April 2nd, 2013 | Author: Jessica Rosenkrantz | Filed under: puzzles | 2 Comments »
We’re continuing our efforts to enhance traditional jigsaw puzzle craft using new technologies. Today we’re releasing a new series of jigsaw puzzles that can be put together in multiple ways. Each one-of-a-kind puzzle is actually a puzzle in a puzzle!
These 2-in-1 puzzles are designed to be extra challenging. Believe it or not, we’ve had people ask us to make our puzzles harder, so this is our answer. We’ve taken away all the clues that people normally use to put a puzzle together. Like our Natural Puzzles, these puzzles have no image, so assembly is guided solely by the shapes of the pieces. We further intensified the difficulty by eliminating the edge pieces and whimsies that usually serve as helpful starting points for puzzle assembly. Finally, to make things even more interesting, we included a sub-puzzle embedded within the puzzle! Roughly 70 colored pieces distributed throughout the 400-piece rectangular puzzle can be removed to form a smaller, circular puzzle.
John Stokes III, a puzzle crafter whose work we admire, proposed the idea of a puzzle within a puzzle to us at last year’s Puzzle Parley. One of the neat things about this concept is that you can actually only do it with digitally fabricated puzzles. When cutting wood puzzles by hand, two edges only fit together if they were physically cut apart with same pass of the scroll saw. Over the years, puzzlers have developed clever ways to make puzzles that fit together in different ways like cutting several pieces of plywood stacked together to create puzzles that can go together with some flexibility (ex. Stokes’ Octastar puzzle). But these methods are still limited by the physical constraints of a saw blade. However, using a laser cutter, we can create precise pieces that interlock even if they were cut separated or from different pieces of wood. Since then, we’ve been scheming of various ways to incorporate multiple configurations into our puzzles.
The embedded puzzle concept would be impossible without our technology-driven approach to design. We had to make several technical enhancements to the puzzle system in this new series. For these puzzles, we generate a smaller puzzle, automatically extract all the individual pieces, and then insert them into a larger puzzle as whimsies. In order to make sure the pieces are an exact fit, the whimsies need to be precise vector shapes instead of the raster whimsies we had developed before. In addition, we enhanced our automatic fixing features so that the inner puzzle pieces were robust enough for the whimsy insertion process.
The back of a 2-in-1 puzzle. The colored pieces are only stained on one side. Each puzzle includes two special laser engraved pieces: one with an edition number and another with the nervous system logo. Currently the puzzles are available with orange or purple pieces. We can do other colors by special request.
The 2-in-1 Challenge puzzles are now available for $200 on our website here.
We’ve also added a smaller challenge puzzle to our collection called the Amoeba Puzzle. The Amoeba is series of challenging, one of a kind puzzles featuring our amoeba style pieces. We’ve used the laser to darken the center of each piece to create a pattern of cell walls on one side of the puzzle. This puzzle is an extra challenge because it has no edge pieces and no image to guide assembly. Also, the woodgrain of the pieces does not match up. Each puzzle is a 7″ circle with around 70 pieces. They are available for $45 on our website here.
Posted: March 29th, 2013 | Author: Jessica Rosenkrantz | Filed under: jewelry | Tags: color, neon | No Comments »
Introducing our new seasonal colors: neon yellow and neon pink! Our 3d-printed jewelry designs are now available in these electric hues. We’ve also added them as material options in the Cell Cycle app so you can design your own neon creations.
Our Cell Cycle and Hyphae jewelry collections are 3d-printed in nylon by selective laser sintering (SLS). When they come out of the machine, the printed parts are white. But, they can be easily colored using acid dyes meant for nylon fabric. To get these intense neon hues, we spent a few days creating and testing different dye recipes. We mixed our own colors by combining different concentrations of commercially available colors, creating a spectrum of shades.
With the coming of our Spring/Summer colors, it’s time to say goodbye to our Fall/Winter color, turquoise. Our remaining stock of turquoise 3d-printed jewelry is now on sale for 50% off. Now is your last chance to purchase our designs in turquoise.
You can check out the new neon pieces here. If you have requests for next season’s colors, leave a comment on this post.
Posted: March 27th, 2013 | Author: Jessica Rosenkrantz | Filed under: clothing, collaboration | Tags: constrvct, fashion | No Comments »
Ever since we started Nervous System back in 2007, I’ve wanted to make clothing. Generative jewelry is great, but a complete generative outfit is even better. Today, I am happy to announce that our first ever clothing line is now available for purchase. We’ve teamed up with our friends Continuum fashion to offer an exclusive collection of dresses, shirts and skirts through Constrvct.com. The collection encapsulates our fascination with how complex forms emerge in nature. Each piece is based on a different pattern generating phenomenon. The designs are produced using digital fabric printing and made to order in your exact measurements.
View the full collection: Nervous System x Constrvct
Initially we decided to limit the collection to 5 dresses. But after producing prototypes of each one and seeing how great they were, we decided to open it up a bit. Each of the dresses shown above has its own collection. The five collections are: Natural, Laplacian, Reaction, Spines, and Branch. Here are some images of each collection and also some suggested dress and jewelry pairings.
The Laplacian collection features organic branched structures grown in a simulation of crystal growth. These forms were generated in a 3 dimensional simulation of dendritic solidification. This is very similar to our ammonite line and our jigsaw puzzles. You can see a video of our system here: Laplacian Growth Video.
Laplacian Dress ($199) with Nudibranch Necklace ($95) and Kelp Earrings ($40) in stainless steel
The Reaction collection features maze-like patterns of ripples and folds inspired by coral and sand-dunes. This was created by the same reaction-diffusion system we create to make our Reaction housewares collection. Reaction-diffusion is a chemical signalling process that describes how stable patterns can emerge the diffusion and reaction of two or more chemicals. It can be used to explain the skin and shell patterns of many animals. This video shows our design system: Reaction Cup video.
Reaction-diffusion dress ($350) with Radiolaria Necklace ($75) and Radiolaria Bracelet ($55) in black silicone
The Branch collection features branching patterns created with a self repelling, growing, branching system inspired by the forms of plants and algae. This video shows a version of the system: Growing box video.
Branch Dress ($199) with Branch Earrings ($40) and Filament Necklace ($85) in stainless steel
The Natural collection is created from my photographs of natural patterns. I travel everywhere with camera in hand, searching for strange yet beautiful phenomena that reveal how the world constructs itself. Pieces in this collection feature macro photographs of lichen, coral, leaf venation, sinter terraces, flower organization, insects, and fungi. Many of the forms I’ve captured have influenced the development of our generative software.
Phyllotaxis Dress ($350) with Vessel Pendant ($40) and Rhizome Cuff ($75) in neon yellow 3d-printed nylon
Spines features generative designs inspired by all things spiny – sea urchins, cacti + pencils. The software I created for this set of designs is based on our Radiolaria cellular design system but with protruding spines where the holes should be. See this set for reference: barnacles / spines/ tentacles set. With this collection, I was primarily playing with the movement of the spines across the body and how to use color since we are usually so focused solely on geometry.
Spines Dress ($199) with 2-layer Twist Ring ($25), Cellular Earrings ($50), and Subdivision Cuff ($60) in neon pink 3d-printed nylon
Posted: March 26th, 2013 | Author: Jessica Rosenkrantz | Filed under: nature, photography | Tags: scuba, underwater | 2 Comments »
Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to explore the ocean. Images of coral reefs and video of deep sea explorers captured my imagination and the ocean appeared to me as a wild, alien territory. My dream was to become a scuba diver. There was one major problem though, I’ve always been uncomfortable in water. Over the years, I’ve kept putting off taking a scuba diving certification course. I had plenty of excuses – “I can’t afford it,” “I’m too busy”, “I can’t swim well enough to pass the swim test portion without embarrassing myself.” Eventually I just got fed up with my own excuses. It’s funny how you can be a perfectly rational person in many aspects of your life but still let serious irrational fears get the best of you in other aspects. We signed up for scuba diving lessons with our local dive shop, United Divers.
Predictably, I hated it. The feeling of being trapped inside an armature of rubber tubes, a constricting neoprene skin and all the while breathing out of a can of air on your back in the deep end of a small, crowded pool wasn’t particularly enticing. We practiced skills like removing your mask and your air supply which triggered in me some kind of visceral animal terror. They lectured us about all the things that could go wrong in our bodies due to the increase in pressure – your lungs could explode, your eardrums could burst, you could get oxygen toxicity, you could get nitrogen toxicity, etc. I really didn’t want to go back. But, we went back anyways. Nine dives later, I think I’m starting to enjoy it…certainly I’ve gotten over the irrational fear part and now I just have the rational part.
After our first 4 dives, we became certified scuba divers. Dive number 5 was the first dive I could bring a camera on. Prior to our trip, I spent a few weeks researching underwater photography equipment. I ended up getting an Olympus ELP5 micro-4/3′s camera. Olympus is the only major camera manufacturer that makes dive housing for its cameras. Third party housings are very expensive, so it was cheaper to buy an entire new camera system with lenses than to buy the housing for my dSLR camera. I also considered how ginormous the housings for dSLR’s are and decided a smaller system would give me more flexibility in the water. My underwater photography rig consists of Olympus ELP5, Olympus PT-EP10 housing, Olympus 60mm macro lens with focus ring, and one Sea & Sea ys-01 strobe. As you can see below, it’s still quite big even though it’s smaller than a SLR system.
Taking photographs underwater is complicated. After you go down a few dozen feet, most sunlight has been absorbed so it’s rather dark. The red portion of the spectrum disappears first, so without a flash your photos will appear completely blue. Another issue is that the ocean is a dynamic environment, the water is constantly moving; so you are moving, your camera is moving and the things you are trying to photograph are moving. Not to mention the fact that you have to scuba dive while you do it; that means you have to watch your air consumption, maintain your buoyancy, keep track of your dive buddy, and not get lost all while operating your camera. Shooting with a strobe pretty much means you have to operate your camera manually, adjusting the strobe power, exposure and aperture for every shot. You also have to be really careful not that you aren’t bumping in to the stuff around you because most of it is alive and you want to document it, not kill it. To sum it up, underwater photography challenging. Most of the photos I took were complete rubbish. But, I’ve put some of the better ones in this post (these were shot at various dive sites in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii). Despite, the danger and difficulties, the ocean really is the diverse, alien landscape that I pictured it as when I was little.