Trophy Design for Formlabs Impact Awards 2022

Nervous System’s design for Formlabs‘ 2022 Impact Award Trophy was informed by their work designing vascular networks for 3D-printed organs. Intricate branching fluidic networks printed inside a clear block reveal the Formlabs logo when injected with contrasting resin.

Nervous System’s design for the Formlabs Impact Award (photo courtesy of Formlabs)


Our design is inspired by micro-fluidic chips and our work with bio-engineer Jordan Miller on 3d-printed vasculatures for lungs and other organs. We had the idea of creating a hidden trophy design using fluidic networks inside a solid block of printed resin. After printing, a fluid is injected into the trophy to reveal the Formlabs logo and intricate network structures. The sub-millimeter channels are algorithmically grown using our Hyphae generative design system to connect with a Formlabs logo at the top of the trophy.

Our initial design had a tree of veins growing to the butterfly logo and then two simple channels for the fluid to exit out the back. However, this has the problem that once the fluid reaches an exit, it will short circuit the rest on the network leaving it unfilled. The solution lay in our organ research. We want a roughly symmetric network going in and out so the flows equalizes throughout the whole network. However, if we add a symmetric network on the opposite side, it obscures the logo. Our second design uses two interpenetrating trees, so that inlet and outlet of the symmetrical networks actually lay on the same side. This is precisely the technique we developed for 3D printing organs, since many organs in the body are composed of 2 or even 3-4 interpenetrating networks such as the airway and blood vessels of the lung.

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