3D printing 06/10/11

We had a lecture in the morning about 3D printing. It helped me to understand the limitless possibilities this technique has to offer. As 3D printers getting cheaper and more available in the future mass production will give place to personalised unique objects.

People from different disciplines recently experiment with this method and developing different applications. In design it mostly used by jewellers but in this year 3D printed textiles appeared on the catwalks as a novelty. In terms of jewellery it allows the designer to create very detailed objects, layers, and by playing with very pixelated images it can create interesting textures too. With a brand new programme called Cloud 9 virtual making became possible as well. Instead of beating the actual metal with a heavy hammer a lightweight tool can do the job virtually. It’s playful, experimental, and allows the user to create organic forms. Than the designed product can be printed out in 3D using a wide selection of different materials like plastics, metals, precious metals, smart materials, sand, paper, wax ceramics, and even chocolate.

In textile design Continuum Fashion recently introduced N-12 a 3D printed ready to wear bikini made out of a special nylon material. It is the first affordable fashion piece created with this technique. It's also unique as a swimsuit material since it's waterproof and actually become more comfortable when it gets wet. I love the crochet look of the piece which been designed in Rhino 3D by using a specially written algorithmic script to create the structure. So make something like this is utterly computer based and although we will learn how to use the Rhino 3D software at this point I can't imagine myself being able to design something as complex as this. The designers enlisted the service of Shapeways  a 3D modelling company to print out their final product. They offer a cheap access to designers to use this technique without buying a very expensive printer. You can get the ready product in about 2 weeks depending on the material you choose (plastic, metal, glass). You can find other adaptations of the technique in fashion such as shoes, and knitted structured clothes. Here comes the future!

3D printing also has some important eco-friendly qualities. As soon as it will get popular and available for everybody you won't need to order the product on the internet and receive it by post. Just as we have printers at home at the moment a portable version of 3D printers is coming soon. So the design can come straight out from the printer which means transport won't be necessary anymore which lowers the carbon footprint of the production. Some of the materials it uses also reusable or recyclable. But the best thing about this technique is the possibility of reproduce bits of objects that lost or broken in your household. It could be the foot of your son's robot or the plastic bit you set the temperature with on the hob. Rhino 3D is a user friendly programme so designing simple objects like these wouldn't take a huge effort. It's good for your purse and for the planet too since you won't bin the toy and buy a new one but fix it easily. It also allows you to redesign bits in your household which opens up new ways of thinking about interior design. You can personalise your light-switch, your door handles, and basically anything that's changeable. In fashion I can see new products coming with changeable bits either bags, shoes or clothing. We'll be able to design earrings, belt buckles, pins and buttons. The possibilities are endless, the only limit is our imagination. 

Quick workshop: 

Design the perfect 3D-printed chocholate!

- rounded not square
- like a fruit? What kind of fruit? ....
- grapes?
- 5 a day chocolate = quilt free pleasure
- 3 different types of chocolate - milk, dark, white

Designed in 3D Max:

Critical Making and Fabrication - Project 1

Team work!

During the first project in this module we were working in teams with fellow students from different disciplines. Emma - from Interior Design, Rachel - from Jewellery and Metal Design, Kirsty - a knitter from Textile Design, and myself from printed textiles formed Group 10. The aim of this project to get to know each other's departments, equipment, and techniques to combine our knowledge and design an innovative product. We also had the task to research latest technologies and try to build them into our ideas. We've been given the context Security for the project.

I've found the topic quite scary because I'm not very good at technology and computer based stuff but I was sure we can figure out something together. Our first task was to come up with a name for our group which seemed to be a massive challenge. We couldn't really think about anything clever so put the problem apart for a while and started to brainstorm about Security. Ones we done that we decided to organise the words we came up with. We created three subgroups under Security: Home, Personal, and IT to make it easier to understand the amount of information we had on the board. Then we made a mind map to help us think about the possible design opportunities.

In the 21st century we have to face different challenges than we had to in the past. We must remember so many passwords, we must identify ourselves at many places which seems to be such a hassle at the airports or even at nightclubs not to mention the possibility of losing our IDs or passports which means we have to face a nightmare to replace them. But there are common places as well like protect our belongings, our homes or even ourselves.

We identified three main topics we wanted to investigate further and we made a mind map for each: Identity, Alarm, Online. In terms of Identity we realised that we have too many cards to carry, the photographs are usually poor quality, they are easy to lose and expansive to replace. So an 'All in one ID' would be a perfect solution. It also gave us an idea about the name of our team. We became 'All in one' which gives a hint about members from different disciplines working together in one group.

Then we moved onto the alarms. We realised the lack of a practical personal alarm. The existing ones are way too loud, scary, they hurt your ears and can make your situation even worse when you're in trouble. So we were thinking about to design a wearable silent alarm which could send a signal to a family member and/or to the police.

The next problem we realised was about the several passwords we have to remember to log into different websites and online services. So we tried to find a solution instead of passwords.


I did my research on the latest technologies and found several interesting materials we could think about to use.

Smart Materials:
Lycra - sportswear, wet suits 
Thinsulate - a thin material which keeps you warm
Carbon Fibres and Kevlar - very strong materials, used for boats, skateboards, bikes
Teflon - non-sticky, unreactive - used as holders for chemicals
Gore-Tex - breathable, waterproof
Piezoelectric - some materials accumulate voltage in response to mechanical stress (bending, expand, contract, etc.)
Ph sensitive polymers, Temperature-responsive polymers - as ph or temperature changes in the surroundings the material undergoes a physical change
Halochromic material - changes colour as a result of change in acidity in the surroundings
Chromogenetic systems - change colour in  response to electrical, optical or thermal changes (light sensitive sunglasses)
Selfhealing materials - repair itself which causesa longer lifetime
Wearable computers, E-textiles - miniature electronic devices built into clothing
QR codes - similar as a barcode, capable of storing about 3 kbytes or 7000 numbers, quickly scannable with smart phones
RFID - Radio-Frequency Identification - easy way for tracking objects or people, works from several meters away, can read hundreds of tags at the same time, no need of  battery 
3D printing - quick way of prototyping

We had almost a week to think about the three designs opportunities then we came together and discussed our ideas. I started to think about a wearable 'Personal alarm'. It has to be waterproof because if you take it off when you have a shower you would forgot to put it back on. It must have a long life time and it has to be comfortable so it wouldn't disturb you while sleeping. I was thinking about a bracelet perhaps combined with a watch. I thought  ph sensitive polymers could be used to detect when we are in trouble so I started to research how our bodies respond to fear or shock. I've realised we have the same reaction to fright than we have to stress. And stress could be very dangerous too it could cause serious chronic illnesses. The only problem was that I haven't found anything about the fact that stress or fear would change the acidity of our skin. It makes our heart beat faster and raises our body temperature but isn't that the same when we do sports or other physical activity :) . It would be embarrassing if the police would appear in bedrooms just because people having a great time. Although I found out there is a material which measures emotional responses on the palms. It called 'skin conductive respond' which means the sweat on the palms generate electricity which is measureable. But there is a product called Q-sensor which does that so it already exists.

I wouldn't give up on this idea so I thought something could be inside of the bracelet and when you push that it would send a signal to your smart phone via bluetooth. Then the mobile could determine your location and send a signal to the police or to your emergency contact. It would be useful because you don't want to start looking in your bag for your phone when you're in trouble and a bracelet is always handy. So how to make it wearable? Felt could be a solution since it's comfortable and waterproof but I have to try if it's drying quickly enough and wouldn't shrink too much when it gets wet. The bracelet also could have two different parts made out of two different colours and have different functions. Like the black half could be the silent alarm and the red part is the loud one...

My other idea was for the 'Recognition Device'. I actually have an A/5 page in my notebook full with my usernames and different passwords for different websites. Of course not the actual passwords just memorable information which wouldn't mean anything for others but for me. I made this page because it happened with me so many times that I forgot a password and had to apply for another one which was such a hassle. So I thought I could design a jewellery piece to keep my memorable info handy. I decided to use QR codes because they can store the info you need and I quite like their looks as well. They can store web addresses too which allows you to use pictures or even visual narratives to remember your passwords. One side of the pendant could have the QR codes and the other the logos of the online pages. But what happens when you change your password? You don't want to bin your jewellery so I thought the codes could be printed on thin textile squares like silk. It would make them even prettier and changeable as well...

So we met up at next time and discussed our ideas. For the 'Personal alarm' my group quite liked the idea of a watch and also the idea of stress level recognition. Although they thought a changeable silicone strip would be better than felt  and it could be personalised as well. Me personally wouldn't wear a silicone band all the time because that's not what I call comfortable but that's just me. So we decided to make prototypes for next time of the felt version and the changeable strip version as well. 

For the 'Recognition Device' the ideas were a fingerprint scanner built into a printer and a retina scanner built into a webcam. I found these ideas quite obvious and I didn't like them too much but they seemed to be happy about them so why not give them a go. One had more potential than these, a magnetic device attachable to different laptops. I liked the idea of a mobile device which you could carry in your bag in a small case (maybe a textile case). What really surprised me that Kirsty let us know about an existing laptop with a built in fingerprint reader (Lenovo) but it doesn't put them off of the idea.


Fingerprint Scanner 

Retina Scanner

 Magnetic Device attachable to different laptops

 Personal Alarm


The best suggestion for this topic was a scannable barcode weaved into our clothing which came from Kirsty. It developed to the idea of having a printed barcode in our clothes, which definitely had a good potential. 

They didn't like my idea of the pendant at all since it's not safe enough. After this meeting I've realised that I have very different opinion about good ideas and it made me feel an outsider who's suggestions doesn't make any sense. I still tried to give voice to my judgement but I started to feel less and less comfortable with the team work. At the end of the day we decided on who's doing which prototypes. I choose the 'Personal Alarm' ones so I can test how felt acts when it gets wet. I also made a prototype of my pendant just to try to convince them...

During the prototyping process I realised that felt isn't the best material to use. I made two pieces one was knitted (100% wool yarn) and the other one felted. Instead of shrinking they actually got much longer which could be solved by making them shorter at the first place but they also stayed wet for ages which makes them uncomfortable to wear. The changeable band watch turned out to be all right. I found prototyping very useful not just for trying out materials but also to figure out how to build up something. I was happy with the pendant prototype although I never managed to convince the other girls. I really enjoyed prototyping and definitely going to do it in the future. 

We had the prototypes ready so we started to think about which products have the most potential to develop further. We made a list of the positive and negative qualities of the designs. We agreed that the portable fingerprint scanner and the bar code labels disserve to be look into. So we made two sheets about their concepts, developments, and possible outcomes. Once we done that it was obvious to go with the 'All in one ID'.

'All-in-one ID'

It combines all of your ID cards (e.g. passport, driving licence, student card, etc.) into one simple, easy to use device. The government proved Master Card will be send out to you with all the details of your previous cards. To ensure this card cannot be lost or stolen you can keep it safe at home while you use a printed barcode instead. All clothing companies will manufacture a blank label into the sleeves of the clothing onto which the barcode of your Master Card can be transferred by a stamp using a special ink. The handy barcode then can be scanned when a particular ID card is required (e.g. at the airport or at a night club) then all your details would pop up on the screen including  your photograph so no one else can use it. 

We divided the tasks for the presentation. Rachel did the texts for the boards and another prototype for the master ID, Emma made the stamp and also a master ID, Kirsty did all the printing of the photographs and she knit a sleeve with a blank label and I made two more sleeves and a couple more labels with the barcodes printed on. Then we put everything together and choose a board each to talk about.

 Presentation boards:

The presentation went well, no excitement has been involved. The design process was pretty much the same. I'm studying design to explore, experience and learn new skills not just to pass certain modules. I do enjoy the excitement I feel when I start to work on a project but I found it hard to find the same curiosity in my group's members. I didn't enjoy teamwork this time but I know it could be a very different experience. Maybe if it's not at the University but in real life people would put more effort into the process but this time it was dull.
We got some feedback from other fellow students and one of them raised a very interesting issue. What if you put your clothes into a charity shop? What would you do with the label?  Well, you can sew another one in but that would mean quite a hassle for some. So is the only secure way to identify yourself if you tattoo a barcode on yourself or if you wear a chip under your skin? I hope not because I don't want the government to know where am I and I'm up to. That would be the end of my personal freedom and if that's the future than I'm not looking forward to it. Although I wouldn't mind the tattoo that much but other people surely would. I quite like our outcome even if it could be develop further in more details.


RSA competition - year 3 / semester 1

My short interpretation of the original brief:

Something for everyone

Research shows that young people having a consistent and caring relationship with older generations going to achieve more success in their future. Bringing the different age groups together would be beneficial for everybody. By creating the opportunity to communicate with each other older people wouldn't feel isolated anymore and it would help participants to share their knowledge  and experience.
I started to think about a community space where both generations would feel comfortable and be able to have fun together. Tea culture is very essential in Britain and a basic form of socializing. I imagined a place where everybody could make their own cuppa, bake cakes and be involved in other creative activities like art and craft.
My aim was to use the power of colour and light to create a positive, welcoming atmosphere. Designs of the final panels are based on the interests and beloved colours of different age groups. During the making process I was experimenting with different layers to achieve a special light effect. 

Thinking process on the wall:


 I was paying way too much attention and time on the interior of the community space...

Research on colour: it was very interesting and probably will be usuful in the fututre but I couldn't manage to use the gained information effectively at the end. Next time I'd like to spend more time on mixing up the exect colours.


 Capturing movement and energy

This design remind me of a football advert so I moved on...

 Kids' - the dancers became fairies

 Tennagers' - as an inspiration I used the movement of equaliser lights

The conductor refers to classical music

Elderly's - floral pattern: evoke the tranquility of rural life

I found interesting the relation between graffitis and children drawings so I took a couple of pictures in Dundee to get inspired.

I also used classical record covers as an inspiration.

It was time to figure out the composition. I thought chintzy wallpapers can give me some ideas. And they did.

I produced plenty of monoprints to bring nice textures into the design because I wasn't happy with the bold shapes of colour.

Then I tried to set up the final compositions of the three panels. The colours are just indications.

I didn't have too much time for the facric samples mainly because I wanted to use so many layers on them. Well, I just went for it. I've choosen silk-viscose mixture fabrics. The velvet ones turned out to be the nicest.

For the first layers I exposed these ethalons onto screen then I used acid dyes:

Then I printed the texture of the far right one onto the top as a second layer.I used a mixture of discharger + Illuminating acid dyes. Then I used the rest of the ethalons to print on a layer of devoré. As I found out later I could have had a much sharper result if I print it onto the back of the fabric. Devoré allows silk to burn out of the fabric to create a see through effect. 

Then I hand-painted small areas of the sample with acid dyes. For the final layer I monoprinted contour lines to give depth to the design. I hand-painted this layer with reactive dyes onto a screen. Although I'm not entirely happy with the outcomes I've learnt a lot during this project. Next time I'd like to leave more time for experimenting and mixing up the exact colours. It was a great experience though and I can't wait to use what I've learnt in my next project.