Flexible Grids in Self-Structure Exhibition

Our flexible grid research project is currently being exhibited at Le Lieu du Design in Paris.  We appreciate Elodie Ternaux of matériO asking us to be part of this exhibition.  Please send us photos if you happen to see the exhibit.

While preparing materials for the exhibition we decided to try and build a longer version of the flexible grid.  Our previous grid prints were sized to take up roughly half of the print bed (5″x7″).  The resolution of the meshes that we used for those prints were creating large .STL files (>200MB) so when we tried to create a print the size of the entire bed (8″x10″) the Objet Studio software would crash.

We revisited this problem and played around with different mesh resolutions that allowed us to still achieve the separation and movement between the parts but with much smaller file sizes.  After that we stacked three copies of the 8″x10″ print and then connected them together at alternating ends to create a 8″x30″ print.

The connection between the three layers had to be manually modeled in Rhino because of the rotation that the pieces have to go through when the grid is folded.  It took a few test prints to get the pieces to not fuse together.  The bigger issue arose when we tried to clean the 8″x30″ print and realized how delicate the vertically oriented rings became.
The majority of the rings are sliced horizontally which gives them good structural integrity, but the slices running through the rings that occur at the fold create the perfect weak spot for the ring to break along.  Unfortunately, we learned this after experiencing a number of fractures which reduced our final print to 8″x20″.  Still much bigger than earlier prints.

Like any other fabrication process, the use of a 3d printer requires an understanding of the underlying material properties which is something these studies are just beginning to inform us about.  We’ll have to see if we can find a use for that fragile cross-section in future prints.