Hydrophytes (2018)

Hydrophytes (2018)

Nicole Hone

Hydrophytes – Tangible animation – Designing Organic Performance with Multi-Material 3D/4D Printing (2018)

In her submission for her Master of Design Innovation degree Nicole Hone continues to push boundaries by refining 4D aspects like movement and expression of emotion. For her research paper she created an intriguing repertoire of aquatic plants – Hydrophytes – that can react to their environment and perform certain tasks within this environment.

Her skillful use of Rhino, Grasshopper and ZBrush and her keen observations of nature have resulted in plants that display distinct characteristics which range from ethereal playfulness to aggressive menace and that can execute credible lifelike movements. The hydrophytes also present Nicole’s concept of ‘Tangible Animation’ by turning 3D objects into 4D and making them come alive in real life. Her ingenious use of neutral printing material and a data projector enabled her to easily express a range of emotions. By casting digitally-controlled lighting onto the neutral-coloured surface, the organisms can display an infinite range of emotions through colour association at a moment’s notice. This versatility can be particularly interesting to the filmmaking industry.

4D – evolution of printing

Purmundus Challenge 2019 2nd Prize

When Nicole started her studies at VUW multi-material 3D printing was taking off and exposed her to a range of projects that were pushing the boundaries. In 2008 Metaglobs discovered the potential of printed objects to be taken for lifelike organisms. Since 2012 research by MADE into new flexible materials had advanced to such a point that designs like Blossom , Lissom and Chromatose were showcasing 4D creatures with lifelike movement.

Materials and Processes – close-up


Rhino5 + Grasshopper plug-in, ZBrush


Nicole used the in-house Object Connex 350 with Tango and Vero materials.

Project level

Master of Design Innovation Research Portfolio submission, supervisors: Ross Stevens, Bernard Guy