Liquid Printing (2022)

Liquid Printing (2022)

For over a decade MADE research and Stratasys have been working together expanding 3D printing technology by developing new applications and imagining new materials for printers. This collaboration recently culminated in MADE becoming part of an exclusive group of researchers with access to ground-breaking beta software and materials for the Stratasys J7 and J8 printers. In 2021 Stratasys introduced the PolyJet Research Software package which offered – amongst others – the opportunity to print with liquid support materials to create soft parts, hydraulics or fluidic models.

Ross Stevens in collaboration with Nicole Hone set out to design objects that could be used to interact with natural elements like water, air and ice in a playful and emotionally captivating way. The primary intention was to show how these analog physical objects can create a powerful visual display without the need of lengthy digital manipulation, in fact their analog ‘randomness’ exceeding the digital creation potential in intricate detail.

The film industry has up until now relied on analog craftsmanship or Computer Generated Images (CGI) to make their dreams become a reality. The latest printers enable these 2D images to become a 3D physical reality, to become Computer Generated Objects (CGO) which was a term coined by Ross Stevens in 2015 for the project Lissom.

Digital objects can inhabit a range of worlds, for example in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). While VR is completely digital, AR fuses the digital with the analog. In Object Reality (OR), a new term developed by Ross Stevens, digital objects are taken from the virtual plane and given a life in the physical world, expanding the range of worlds for digital creations.

Previous research like Blossom and Lissom showed the need of printing small tubes for hydraulics. The new liquid support material enables smaller and more reliable tubes to be printed directly into the object because post printing clean-up consists purely of it draining out of the tubes. The new software, printers and materials enable printing intricate internal tubes and structures creating an object for multidimensional interactions with actors or viewers. While this research focussed on the film making application of the new materials, its potential can be easily expanded to medical and other creative uses.

As the process is still in beta, we cannot discuss the how. But the what and why are more interesting in the first place, pointing out the exciting developments happening in the multi-material printing industry.

Materials and Processes

Software

Houdini, GrabCAD

Hardware

Stratasys J850 printer

Project level

Academic Research