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Posted: Aug 02, 2013
Freeform 3D printer with undo function (w/video)
(Nanowerk News) Developed by Brian Harms, a Masters student at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, this project aims to blur the line between processes of design and fabrication in the context of rapid prototyping by increasing the fluidity of the fabrication process through coordinated material and robotic processes. The project exploits feedback loops that allow the process to be used as a live generative form-finding tool as well as a method for reification of designed objects.
By injecting and suspending light-curing resin in a gelatinous medium, one is afforded the ability to shape freeform objects without the need for molds or other subtractive manufacturing processes that would otherwise be necessary. The gel acts as an omnidirectional support material which is reusable, so there is no wasted material.
One major distinction between this project and other rapid prototyping processes is the ability to utilize 3D vector-based toolpaths. Virtually all other processes use paths generated via contouring a digital model, and rely on the hardening of each successive layer before being able to move on to the next.
The suspension of resin in space without added support material allows for the ability to navigate and fabricate directly on and around other existing objects within the Gel, as well as the ability to observe the process from any angle. The suspension of time in this process allows for tool changes, manual injections, on-the-fly robotic injections, multi-material injections, live modification of the digital or physical model, and the ability to physically "undo" (resin removal via suction or scooping).