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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
CNC routing in progress vine.co/v/bdIL5ZOWdgp
— Jessica Rosenkrantz (@nervous_jessica) March 15, 2013
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.
Yesterday, we fabricated a faceted ellipsoid mirror following up on some of the tangent planes work we’ve done over the years. The mirror is made of laser cut acrylic and plywood pieces. Each acrylic mirror piece is laminated to a plywood piece that has integrated holes for connectors and labels on the edges to aid in construction. For this piece, we made the interior surface mirrored and left the exterior raw, showing the construction method and logic. Our main goal for this prototype was to improve on our previous work by making a very sturdy and cleanly fabricated construction.
As you near the focal point of the ellipsoid, shard-like perspectives of the environment gradually transform into 70 reflections of the viewer. The video below sort of gives you a sense of it.
Finished mirror! vine.co/v/bw9ZO7ruOvd
— Jessica Rosenkrantz (@nervous_jessica) March 12, 2013
We’ve hoping to make some more mirrors of different geometries and with different focal points and possibly do an exhibition in our space in the coming months. Also I’d like to make some giant ones from steel mirror. Do you want to help? The construction process is a bit tedious…