Science fair

After 5 weeks we succeeded in make a functioning 3D printed bicycle saddle using natural processes. We exhibited our product and research findings at the science fair today, the 1st of November at the faculty of Industrial Design. Below are some pictures of the final product and our stall at the science fair.

3D printing natural process


thumbnail_IMG-20161101-WA0022 thumbnail_IMG-20161101-WA0023












All in all it was a really nice day. We had time to look at the projects and great end results of our fellow students. The visitors were really enthusiastic and curious. The most commonly asked questions were: “ What exactly is the benefit of making a 3D printed product based on a natural process?” and “ How do you get a 3D printed saddle from your reaction?” The benefit of our product is that we let nature make the blueprint for our product. This is less time consuming than regular modeling processes on the computer. Moreover, the essence of this product is formed by nature without much human interference. We only created the boundaries for the natural process, which was in this case the saddle. This principal idea of our project really seemed to come across.

Introduction to Rhino, Nettfab and Meshmixer

First stage

The first stage was to experiment with low bit files. There were a lot of shapes created, like a sphere, a box and finally an easy-shaped-saddle. All of these shapes were created with Rhinoceros. After this section the 3D reaction models from Avizo were transferred to Rhinoceros. In this section it was important to type WRL in the avizo title so that Rhinoceros automatically convert a WRL file to a STL file and generate a mesh. It was also important to downgrade this files, because this made the experimenting process more fast. Finally, two downgraded Avizo files, one for the hard material and one for the soft material, and one Rhinoceros shaped model were loaded in Rhinoceros. This is done by the function ‘import’.

Schermafbeelding 2016-10-27 om 11.44.06The three meshes in a rendered top view.


How to cut out shapes of natural meshes?

This is done with the program Meshmixer from Autodesk. The function Boolean intersection is used in Meshmixer. Meshmixer is used instead of Rhinoceros, because Meshmixer recognizes the patterns as a volume, instead of Rhinoceros. So when two volumes intersect there is created a new closed volume, or a valid mesh/closed double precision polygon mesh. If Rhinoceros does this, there could be a chance that 4 million of triangles need to be flipped by hand and closed again. This would be less secure, and there will be a bigger chance of failure.

Important notice: When the parts were cut out of natural meshes, it was important that the saddle (2 files in this case) was coordinated at the same reference point.

Schermafbeelding 2016-10-31 om 15.30.54The soft part, created with the function Boolean intersection from Meshmixer.


Finetuning with Netfabb

After creating two shapes, the soft part and hard part, were the shapes controlled by Netfabb. Why Netfabb? Netfabb has a simple repair mode. This repair mode finds holes and repairs them easily and automatic. After this section, there is created a valid mesh, which is also a closed double precision polygon mesh.

Schermafbeelding 2016-10-31 om 20.14.40The soft part opened in Netfabb, the red sign shows us there is an error.

Creating the product

When the two parts were repaired, they were transferred to Rhinoceros again. And checked if they were both closed and valid meshes. The soft and hard part were seperated and grouped. Now they could be exported both, by export selected, and send as a STL-file to the Connex.

 Schermafbeelding 2016-10-31 om 20.27.06The final product in Rhinoceros, black part is hard, cyan part is soft.