New Zealand 4D printing experts create liquid printed structures with Stratasys –


Every time design artist Nicole Hone brings one of her ideas to life, she creates a wonderful world. Its mesmerizing 4D printed structures are truly one-of-a-kind, evoking the purity of nature and expanding the spectrum of what is possible in multi-material printing. In 2019, discussed Hone’s accomplishments in the field, particularly in creating tangible animations through his research project dubbed Hydrophytes. Fast forward to now, and Hone is no longer a graduate student at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, but is now a graphic designer for science-based green beauty brand Antipodes and a 3D printing research assistant at her alma mater, working with her mentor and renowned industrial designer Ross Stevens.

In Hone’s latest collaboration with Stevens, they designed and printed objects that could be used to interact with natural elements like water, air and ice in playful and emotionally engaging ways. The results are visually stunning prints that gracefully interact with other elements without requiring heavy handling.

Part of MADE (Multi-property Additive-manufacturing Design Experiments) – a research axis at the School of Design Innovation at Victoria University which focuses on multi-material printing – the project is described as Liquid printing to research. He uses Stratasys‘ Breakthrough beta software and materials for the J7 and J8 series of PolyJet 3D printers. Part of the pioneering brand’s portfolio, the J7 and J8 are designed for high-speed, high-capacity multi-material printing for various design and engineering applications.

For more than a decade, MADE research and Stratasys have worked together to expand 3D printing technology by developing new applications and new materials for printers. This collaboration recently resulted in the integration of MADE into an exclusive group of researchers with access to the company’s J7 and J8 printers. Then in 2021, Stratasys introduced the PolyJet research packagewhich provided the ability to print with liquid support materials to create flexible parts, hydraulic or fluid models.

Liquid printing project by Nicole Hone and Ross Stevens, here Liquid Four Elements releasing bubbles. Image courtesy of Nicole Hone.

Having access to these enriching systems, Stevens and Hone set out to design the new objects for their 2022 project. First, the duo posted three videos of the printed structures in action. The first one, Four liquid elements, shows a 4D seaweed-like creation that interacts with four elements (air, smoke, ice, and water). At a time, Liquid leaves shows how 4D printed leaves move when a liquid element is inserted through a small tube. To finish, Polyphytes is a beautiful design that secretes various elements with a coordinated grace unique to this project.

“The main intention was to show how these analog physical objects can create a powerful visual display without requiring lengthy digital manipulations, in fact their ‘randomness’ exceeding the potential for digital creation in every detail,” says Made on the Liquid printing project website.

Since the process is still in beta, the team will not discuss how these structures are created. Yet they will explain that new software, printers, and liquid support hardware make it possible to print smaller, more reliable, and more complex internal tubes directly into the object. The Liquid Print function of PolyJet technology allows the creation of these hermetic cavities filled with liquid inside an object. Previously, these cavities would have been filled with support material and difficult to clean. The final design of the structure allows for “multi-dimensional interactions with actors or spectators”.

Hone wrote about his project in Designboom magazine in July 2022, focusing primarily on the development process behind Polyphytes. In the published article, the designer explains that the basis of this work is based on the connection between the 3D printed channels and the vascular systems of natural plants. Additionally, the film from his research project (pictured below) explores various physical effects created when different substances pass through the Polyphytes: water, air, smoke, icing sugar, bubble mix and soap.

“The polyphytes are procedurally modeled in Houdini design software with a series of internal channels, some as small as 1mm in diameter, then printed on the Stratasys J850 in polychrome rigid photopolymer resin with varying levels of opacity. The closed voids are initially filled with PolyJet cleaning fluid which is then evacuated in post-production. This allows the channels to instantly become fluid,” Hone explains in his Article by Designboom.

The designers said that although the research is focused on the cinematic application of the new materials, its potential can be easily extended to medical and other creative uses. Victoria University and Ross Stevens have a history of research work with the film industry. Stevens even runs a program at design school where he explores 3D and 4D printing for film and coined the term computer-generated imagery (CGI), which tracks the use of computer graphics to create images in a wide range of segments, including movies and computer animation.

Liquid print project by Nicole Hone and Ross Stevens, here Polyphytes releasing water. Image courtesy of Nicole Hone.

While CGI was a novelty in 2015 when Stevens came up with the Soft project (which saw 3D printed objects interact with real-life humans and display characteristics of living organisms), the 3D printing enthusiast is onto new developments. One of them is Object Reality (OR), a new term he developed to refer to digital objects taken from the virtual plane and brought to life in the physical world, expanding the range of worlds for creations. digital.

Stevens, Hone and other graduate students from the design school were heavily involved in projects for the New Zealand special effects and props company. Weta Workshop. Much of the work done at Victoria University has provided an excellent foundation for the award-winning company’s projects. Students have even found jobs, helping create special effects for many beloved shows and movies.


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