Designer Lamps From 3D Printers
Todd Grimm posted on January 26, 2012 |

A trend-setting project led by architect Wieland Schmidt is offering a glimpse of what digital production in the future may look like. As part of the project, designer lamp designs are digitalized and printed at voxeljet's 3D service center.

This new development started at the Chair for Emerging Technologies at Munich's technical university. This is where Wieland Schmidt, in his role as a visiting lecturer, spent the last semester developing a workflow for the production of complex forms inspired by nature. His work with his students showed that there are problems when modeling freeform shapes. How to convert ideas into meaningful 3D geometry, and once modeled, how are they converted to an end product?

Schmidt’s parametric approach to freeform modeling addressed the design challenge. voxeljet technologies solved the production quandary.

"The possibilities that additive manufacturing now offers are amazing. We can print our lamps in batch size of one at voxeljet's service center – quickly and easily. The prints are based on the CAD data of the models – everything else is done by the 3D printers on a fully automated basis. This means that we can now complete the last and to-date still-missing step of the digital manufacturing process, which offers a whole new dimension of freedom," says Wieland Schmidt.

The focus on complex geometries resulted in a large number of creative works, including designs for lamps whose forms are inspired by nature. Specifically, pictures of diatoms – microscopically small, one-cell algae – served as inspiration for one design. The transparent and complex bodies, with their delicate structure that is broken up by a multitude of fine lines, become visible under a scanning electron microscope. The aesthetic micro-architecture consists of elaborate lightweight shells.

The result is an impressive lamp that was not designed in a static 3D model but rather defined as a parametric geometry. Wieland Schmidt explains the unique feature of this model, “By employing this course of action, we do not define the form but rather individual parameters such as radius, wall thickness, size of opening or rotation angle. Changing one parameter changes the entire geometry.”

This process offers speed and flexibility when it comes to implementing different changes. It is now easy to try many different variants to optimize the design. Once the final form has been determined, the geometry is decoupled from the parametric model, and a classic 3D model is created.

Wieland Schmidt was quite impressed with the result, "The quality and appearance of the lamp created with 3D printing meets even the highest expectations. It was not only printed true to detail and with great precision but is also mechanically stable, making it possible to immediately start the finishing process."

Interested parties can view the lamp collection and place orders at www.shapeandform.de.

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