Folding Technology Lets 3D-Printers Produce Objects Larger Than Themselves [Video]

Hyperform is a new way of creating large objects, regardless of the size of the printer bed.

One of the limiting factors of 3D-printing is the actual size of the printer. To 3D-print large objects, you’ll either have to divide the object into several parts or find yourself a large 3D-printer.

MIT-based designers and researchers Marcelo Coelho and Skylar Tibbits have developed a way to 3D-print large objects without being limited by the size of the printer bed.

In collaboration with Natan Linder and Yoav Reches of Formlabs and with funding from Ars Electronica, the two researchers came up with Hyperform, a method that uses material folding techniques as a computational design strategy as well as assembly strategies to enable designers to compress large objects into the bed space of any 3D-printer and then lay them out and assemble them after printing.

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When the object comes out of the printer, it basically looks like a long string of chain links with multidirectional notches to allow for easy assembly. The chains and notches are created in a way that they will only snap and bend in the direction that they are supposed to.

The researchers demonstrated the method by 3D-printing a 50-foot chain which they hung from the roof of a building. They were also able to create a chandelier to demonstrate the assembly process and show the potential of Hyperform when it comes to creating large items.

The research team intends to open up Hyperform to other designers and architects who may have other ideas on how the method can be used or developed further.

The first video below provides more details about Hyperform. The second video shows Coelho and Tibbits testing Hyperform by 3D-printing a 50-foot chain.

Marcelo Coelho

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