The Kinematics test belt is here and it fits! This was printed in folded form and produced from a 3D scan of Jessica. You can read about that in our previous post: making a kinematics belt. Next up it is time to make the dress.
We decided to make a belt as the next step towards realizing our Kinematics concept dress. We used a Kinect depth camera to produce a 3D scan of my stomach. Then we used our kinematics software to design the belt and computationally fold it for 3D printing. After folding, the bounding box of the belt was about 60% smaller. This print will provide us with some feedback about fit and durability before we move forward with a dress.
We are steadily progressing on our Kinematics dress project. A gown will be on exhibit at apexart in NYC from March 20 – May 10, 2014 as a part of Coding the body, an exhibit organized by Leah Buechley. We are working to print the first full scale dress sometime in February.
We just received a box from Shapeways that contained our first attempt at printing a crumpled structure… and it worked! While the kinematics system always worked in theory, there were all sorts of issues with tolerances, print orientation, numerical stability, etc that we had to address before it could work in real life. Opening up the box and seeing that the print came out perfectly with smooth movement and no fusion was a huge relief.
Come work at Nervous System! We are looking to hire a full-time operations manager to help us manage and expand our studio. Please forward this job posting to anyone you think might be interested. Read the details at http://n-e-r-v-o-u-s.com/jobs.php
The Grommet visited our studio a few weeks ago and recorded a short video with us. We think it came out great! You can watch it below.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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