3D Printing meets Generative Design
Generative design, an infinite way to create, meets an unlimited way to produce, 3D printing.
What does generative design mean? Traditionally we use a CAD software to create a three dimensional form with which define the shape manually. In generative design we use inputs, passing through a self-defined algorithm, to generate shapes for us. These mathematically defined functions can create unimaginable surfaces and volumes with an infinite number of possibilities, influenced by the change of a few parameters. These parameters can be linked to requirements of your product to simplify the optimisation and design process.
Generative algorithms are already out of the labratories of engineers and mathematical theorists and have turned into a global design trend. As early as the beginning of the 20th century Gaudí used parametric hanging models to plan and design his buildings. Architecture has a long history with parametric and generative design, and as the techonoly advances we see more and more examples of it like the metropol parasol in Seville.
As additive manufacturing is opening more design possibilities away from restrictions of traditional processes, engineers are using 3D printing and generative design to improve the structural efficiency, for example in the aerospace industry where light-weight performance is the key to a more efficient airplane.
This trend just started to enter into the consumer world with products like 3D printed soles for footwear, where we can influence the comfort by the parameterised use of flexible material, or just recently with 3D printed eyewear, in which case we can include mechanisms into a print, or even develop whole new ones.
We are past the first magic of using generative design and 3D printing just for its own sake. The challenge is to find the right opportunities for the fitting tool. The fast development in 3D printing technology gives us more and more materials at hand to reinvent existing products and implementations, which opens a whole new range of possibilities to rethink conventional approaches to contemporary product solutions.
Customisation is one of the main advantages of 3D printing. It gives us the possibility to design and build a lot of unique products without increasing the production costs. This way we are able to adapt each product for a singular user as well as producing in small numbers is getting more and more cost-effective.