Following the huge success of Blossom (2012) and the continuing partnership with Stratasys, Ross Stevens and Bernard Guy decided to create a project to focus further research on the latest multi-property printers and their increasing ability to create mobile and life-like objects.
They believe these creatures have commercial potential as an alternative to the time- and labour-consuming Computer Generated Images (CGI) or Claymation/ stop motion processes. We coined the term Computer Generated Object (CGO) marrying harmoniously the best qualities of the digital and the analogue worlds. The digital world offers worldwide connectivity with the power to display near-infinite detail. The analogue world – realized through advancing printing techniques – offers actors the ability to immediately respond to an objects physical characteristics. All this at faster development and production times than stop motion or CGI film making.
By now Stratasys had brought out their Connex3, which not only was capable of printing three materials in one print, but due to its ability to blend materials and colours, also could print in a huge range of colours and Shore hardness values. These printers were tasked with making objects with as few parts as possible, containing the hydraulic mechanisms and displaying an interactive and engaging character.
This project utilized the rendering program Rhino with the Grasshopper plug-in.
The latest Stratasys Connex3 printer was available and showed amazing new potential.
This project was undertaken as a Summer Research Scholarship and supervised by Ross Stevens and Bernard Guy.
Research can confirm preconceived ideas or unearth new ones. This research was intended to unearth new design stories made possible with advanced 3D printing technology. Inspired by the idea of seeing the objects as characters in a movie, the creation of subtle beauty in the weightless environment of water was an important factor to consider. At the same time an artificial tentacle was the starting point of another discussion and the team explored hydraulics rather than Blossoms’ pneumatics to gain safer and more subtle control over an object’s movement.
The team and the tools
Ross and Bernard – with the assistance of Summer Scholarship researchers Oscar Pipson, Ellen Crane, Ben Smith and Keith Thurlow – explored the intricately beautiful details of natural shells and brought to life a creature that displays all the detail and colour of a shell while moving about like a jellyfish. Through the use of generative coding tools like Rhino and Grasshopper they were able to direct the creature’s evolution onscreen after each real life assessment. The new printers enabled a quick turnaround time, which made assessment of each variation easy. Not to mention the fact that by now, there was no major post processing time involved like with old fashioned models and printers.