Posted: November 26th, 2013 | Author: Jesse Louis-Rosenberg | Filed under: 3dprinting, clothing, design, jewelry, simulation, software | Tags: kinematics | 8 Comments »
Kinematics is a system for 4D printing that creates complex, foldable forms composed of articulated modules. The system provides a way to turn any three-dimensional shape into a flexible structure using 3D printing. Kinematics combines computational geometry techniques with rigid body physics and customization. Practically, Kinematics allows us to take large objects and compress them down for 3D printing through simulation. It also enables the production of intricately patterned wearables that conform flexibly to the body.
Today we are releasing a jewelry collection and an accompanying customization app built upon our Kinematics concept. We’re also releasing a free to use app for desktop 3D printers.
Kinematics is a branch of mechanics that describes the motion of objects, often described as the “geometry of motion.” We use the term Kinematics to allude to the core of the project, the use of simulation to model the movement of complex assemblages of jointed parts.
Kinematics produces designs composed of 10’s to 1000’s of unique components that interlock to construct dynamic, mechanical structures. Each component is rigid, but in aggregate they behave as a continuous fabric. Though made of many distinct pieces, these designs require no assembly. Instead the hinge mechanisms are 3D printed in-place and work straight out of the machine.
This project evolved out of a collaboration with Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects group which challenged us to create in-person customization experiences for low cost 3D printers. The genesis of the project is discussed at length in The Making of Kinematics.
a tale of two apps
We are releasing two web-based applications: Kinematics and a simplified version called Kinematics @ Home which is completely free to use.
The Kinematics app allows for the creation of necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Users can sculpt the shape of their jewelry and control the density of the pattern. Designs created with Kinematics can be ordered in polished 3D-printed nylon in a variety of colors.
The Kinematics @ Home app is targeted at people who already have access to a 3D printer. It’s our first app that allows users to download an STL file for home printing. Enter your wrist size, style your bracelet and click print to receive a free STL file suitable for printing on a Makerbot or similar desktop printer.
kinematics@home bracelets printed on a makerbot
Kinematics case study: making a dress
Concurrently with the development of the online applications, we’ve been working on a more advanced software with broader practical applications. Kinematics allows us to design a shape and then fold it into a more compressed form for 3D printing. Items we’ve created so far are flexible, but rigid objects could be created by introducing a hinge joint that locks at a preferred angle. Here we present an example of how Kinematics can be used to create a flexible dress that can be printed in one piece.
The process begins with a 3D scan of the client. This produces an accurate 3D model of the body upon which we draw the form of the desired dress. For this example, the top of the dress conforms exactly to the torso, but the skirt has a larger silhouette, allowing for the dress to drape and flow as the wearer moves.
The surface of the sketched dress is then tessellated with a pattern of triangles. The size of the triangles can be customized by the designer to produce different aesthetic effects as well as different qualities of movement in the dress (the smaller the triangle, the more flexible the structure / the more fabric like it behaves). Next we generate the kinematics structure from the tessellation. Each triangle becomes a panel connected to its neighbors by hinges. The designer can apply different module styles to these panels to create further aesthetic effects.
Finally, we compress the design via simulation so it fits into a 3D printer. This means that an entire gown, much larger than the printer itself, can be produced in a single assembled piece. The simulation uses rigid body physics to accurately model the folding behavior of the design’s nearly 3,000 unique, interconnected parts and find a configuration that fits inside the volume of the printer.
Each jewelry design is a complex assemblage of hinged, triangular parts that behave as a continuous fabric in aggregate. Kinematics jewelry conforms closely to the contours of the human body. This is 21st-century jewelry, designed and manufactured using techniques that did not exist just a few years ago.
Kinematics pieces come in four styles: smooth, angular, polygonal and tetrahedral. Each design takes its name from the module style and number of pieces in the design. For example, Tetra Kinematics 174-n is a tetrahedral style necklace composed of 174 unique modules.
kinematics necklaces with smooth, tetra and polygonal modules
We’ve added eighteen Kinematics designs to our shop, and a limited initial run of each is currently available for purchase. Kinematics jewelry is made of polished 3D printed nylon in a variety of colors. Necklace, earring and bracelet designs are available; the bracelets and necklaces are fastened simply and securely with hidden magnetic clasps. Prices for the collection range from $25 to $350 and most pieces cost less than $100.
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: June 20th, 2013 | Author: Lia Beauchemin | Filed under: 3dprinting, design, exhibition, furniture, housewares, jewelry, news | No Comments »
We’ve been working hard the past few months and are excited to share some details on a few of the projects and events that have been keeping us busy!
In May, we exhibited our latest lighting and furniture designs a the International Contemporary Furniture Fair. ICFF is a beautiful and inspiring exhibition and trade show that happens in conjunction with New York Design Week. We were also excited to be involved with a new project called DesignX that focuses on cutting-edge technologies. In the DesignX booth, Jesse and Jessica taught workshops on 3d-printing and online design customization to a group of excited 3d-printing and design enthusiasts.
At our booth, we showed our newest Hyphae lamp designs, including the recently added pendant (shown above) and wall sconce lamp designs. All of our one-of-a-kind lamp designs have been restocked on our retail webpage and several of these designs are available for immediate shipment. We also showed tables created in our soon-to-be-released Radiolaria custom furniture app (Keep reading for more details on our upcoming app release!)
Jesse and Jessica installing our booth display at ICFF
These are our new Hyphae wall sconces – available soon on our retail page!
Our ICFF booth! We love how our display came together so I recently installed it in our showroom
We love the way it looks against our awesome green wall!
Full moon necklaces
Our ever-popular full moon necklaces are back in stock in both stainless steel and 24k gold plated on our retail site. Each of these one-of-a-kind pendants is a pattern generated by aggregating tiny circles of varying sizes into a complex configuration within a circular boundary. The process we use mimics the growth of corals and other branching forms in nature. They make a really unique gift with an edition number etched onto one side of each one-of-a-kind necklace.
Sneak peek! Radiolaria table app
As promised, here is a little more about our soon-to-be-released custom table app!
At ICFF, we enjoyed letting people experiment with our Radiolaria web application for designing furniture. We also showed three prototype tables generated in the app and fabricated from baltic birch plywood using a CNC router. Using the app, you will be able to dynamically sculpt the table’s patterned top and select cells to hold plexiglass inserts. You can also choose your table’s height, number of legs and finish. We are still working on some finishing touches, so stay tuned for an update when the application goes live!
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 16th, 2013 | Author: Jessica Rosenkrantz | Filed under: furniture, jewelry, news, work in progress | No Comments »
We’re following through with our promise to add tables to the Radiolaria app. Soon you will be able to design your own cellular tables on our website which we CNC route in the studio from plywood. We’ve been testing out various designs and settings. We should have a finished prototype to show you next week. The tables will come complete with organic wood bases and glass inserts for the larger holes.
We now have custom jewelry boxes that fit our larger pieces. These boxes feature a branching pattern we generated with the system show in this video. They are printed in black on recycled speckletone paper, wrapped around recycled chipboard boxes.
We’ve been developing our colors for our spring/summer jewelry collection by creating our own acid dye mixes. Our retail manager, Lia, created an impressive palette of neon colors that should be available before the end of March.
We’ve been playing with two color 3d-printing using our Makerbot Replicator 1. Jesse created an app that takes any 3d model and converts it into a 3d-printable 2-color shell using reaction-diffusion. So far, we’ve just applied it to cats. But, we have some other things in mind and hope to release it as an app on our website soon…so anyone can convert any model into a 2-color print. You can download the 2-color cat models from our Thingiverse.
We made a version of the Large Hyphae Ring in sterling silver for a magazine cover photoshoot that came out spectacular!
When we release the new colors, we’ll be retiring a few pieces from the Hyphae collection and replacing them with some new designs.
Posted: January 24th, 2013 | Author: Jessica Rosenkrantz | Filed under: jewelry | 1 Comment »
People have been making lots of cool designs with the Radiolaria app since we launched last month. And, we’ve been having fun with it too! We are releasing three limited edition designs that we created with Radiolaria. We have 10 pieces in stock for each design. Do you like one of these but want something a little different? You can edit the design in the Radiolaria app, customizing to your liking. Change the size, materials, add a twist, or make a more dramatic change; our design is just the start.
Network Earrings and Network Necklace
Subdivision Necklace and App View
Posted: November 29th, 2012 | Author: Jessica Rosenkrantz | Filed under: design, housewares, jewelry, software | No Comments »
Radiolaria, our latest web-based design app is now available! Radiolaria lets you manipulate a web of connected cells to create a huge variety of biologically-inspired patterns.
Each object you create starts as a basic hexagonal mesh which you can change as much, or as little, as you want with a variety of tools. Choose a sharp, geometric look or a rounded, more organic style. Use attractive and repulsive forces to disrupt the pattern’s initial symmetry, or give it a twist with spiraling forces. Click inside any cell to subdivide it into three smaller cells — those smaller cells can even be further subdivided to add more intricate detail to your design.
Your digital designs can be turned into real-world jewelry, housewares, or decorations made from steel, bamboo, or felt. Play around! And make sure to save your creations so you can revisit and share them, digitally or physically. Get started at n-e-r-v-o-u-s.com/radiolaria/
We released the first version of our Radiolaria software in 2007 as a Processing applet on our website. The tool was our first effort to engage others in our design process: a way of sharing the cool tools we were creating for ourselves to design with visitors to our website. The applet functioned more as proof of concept than anything else, as few people ever used it to purchase designs. Our in house version of the software has continued to develop over the past 5 years and today we bring the latest version to the web. I feel like we’ve “grown up” a lot since we released the original app and the internet has too. This version of Radiolaria is the most feature rich, user friendly and powerful of any we’ve made so far…and it runs entirely in the browser! Making something like this wouldn’t have been possible for us or the internet 5 years ago.
What can you make?
lasercut bamboo material samples
You can make 4 types of product with Radiolaria: earrings, necklaces, trivets/coasters, and art objects. In 4 materials: stainless steel, 24kt gold plated stainless steel, bamboo plywood, black wool felt. Earrings and necklaces can be made in the stainless steel and gold only. Trivets and coasters can be made in bamboo plywood and wool felt only. Art object is our catch all term for making an abstract thing. You can make your abstract thing any material you like.
stainless steel material samples
The materials we’ve chosen for this app are eco-friendly. Bamboo plywood and wool felt are both beautiful renewable materials made from natural fibers. And our stainless steel is composed of 60% recycled steel and is 100% recyclable.
We’re also working on some larger scale options for what you can make with the app…including furniture! Hopefully, we’ll have that integrated soon.
How long does it take to make?
The bamboo and wool designs are made in our studio in Somerville, MA and take 1 week to make. The stainless steel and gold plated designs take us 3 weeks to make. They are photochemically etched in Minnesota.
Radiolaria – what are they?
Radiolaria drawings by Ernst Haeckel
Radiolaria are microscopic single celled organisms that live in the ocean. Each radiolarian builds a unique skeleton of silica that extends from and surrounds its cell membrane. The form of these skeletons varies from species to species but they are generally composed of different scales of pores and spines. The skeleton provides protection while it floats freely through the ocean and also serves as an armature for the extension of tentacle-like pseudopods which collect food. These skeletons, called ‘tests’, have many fascinating properties: they are extremely beautiful 3-dimensional structures, they use minimal material to enclose a large volume, and they are synthesized and “printed” by a unicellular organism.
Our Radiolaria app attempts to mimic the patterns seen in radiolarian structures by creating a deforming mesh of hexagons. The deformations are controlled by the user by physical simulation: each line acts as a spring, pulling neighboring lines. You can add forces and subdivide cells to sculpt the mesh.
What are you making?
Here are some designs we’ve been making with the app. We want to see what you will make, tweet your designs @nervous_system!
Did you think I was kidding when I said the original apps were kind of terrible. I wasn’t. Have a look
Posted: October 18th, 2012 | Author: Jessica Rosenkrantz | Filed under: furniture, jewelry | No Comments »
Lately, we share a lot of snapshots of what we are working on in the studio on Instagram (username: nervous_jessica). But maybe you blog followers and website visitors might also appreciate them. Lately we’re working on….
TABLES! We’ve been cutting this reaction-diffusion piece on our router the past few nights into the wee hours. This is part of an 8′ maple table we’re fabricating for a commission.
To prepare for making the big table we tested on our settings by making a small coffee table in the same wood. Also we made legs for the first time.
PUZZLES! We’ve been making tons of puzzles for stores for the holiday season. That means I’ve got jigsaw puzzles on my brain and in my instagram.
APP MAKING – We’re almost done making the HTML5 version of the Radiolaria app. And we’re testing out stuff you will be able to make with it: earrings! necklaces! trivets!
ANIMATION – We’re working on an animation to document the ideas behind our new Orb and Orbicular lamps.
JEWELRY – And as usual we’re making tons of jewelry, 3d-printed and otherwise.
SUMMARY – We’ve been busy.