New Z Pavilion
Project Type: Pavilion / Canopy
Project Year: 2023
Project Team: Guan Lee, Kostas Grigoriadis, Alvaro Lopez Rodriguez, Christopher Fischlein, Lawrence Hsu
3D printers today typically operate in three axes. They have the horizontal plane as the build platform, and the vertical Z axis enables layer-by-layer deposition of material during the printing process. A fourth axis is often referred to as the rotational or rotary axis and introduces movement around a specific centreline. This allows the print head or build platform to tilt at an angle during the printing process, enabling the creation of more intricate and complex geometries. Additionally, the printable volume is known as the bounding box. It is essentially a virtual container that encompasses the model, helping to determine the space required for printing and ensuring that the model fits within the specified build volume of a 3D printer.
New Z proposed an alternative additive manufacturing process that is similar to that of extrusion manufacturing with customisable capabilities. This printing process swapped the vertical for the horizontal, and by doing so, enabled the extension of the printing bounding box. The pavilion that served as a test build for this method, was an assembly of 52 customised material density tubes that defined a doubly curved global surface. The saddle shaped base surface was analysed in terms of mean curvature and a variable density point cloud was mapped on it based on curvature values. Higher curvature resulted in lower point density.
The points were then converted to extrudable material paths. Having sparser material deposition in high curvature regions allowed for the tubes to be more bendable in those areas therefore allowing the target shape to be achieved more easily. In terms of manufacturing, the tubes were printed with a 6-axis robotic arm on a rotating lead screw driven by a stepper motor. The rotating new Z axis added a new dimension to 3D printing by shifting the material deposition's relationship to gravity, building sideways as opposed to upward. This continuously revolving horizontal movement of the build platform enabled a new way of additive manufacturing.
In comparison to lattice or vertical layered printing, the continuous spiralling motion offered advantages such as increased printable area, reduced cycle times, and an uninterrupted material flow. From a production viewpoint, this sideways motion could be combined with a conveyor system, resulting in continuous and uninterrupted printing. In principle therefore, the whole project could be extruded as a single, continuous tube that could then be cut down in segments for assembly.
The aim of this experimental project was to widen the conceptual bounding volume in 3D printing and to explore how bespoke printed geometries could be more performative. Customisation is a key advantage of 3D printing for architecture. Innovative approaches to this fabrication method need to work hand in hand with current limitations to explore what can be customisable and how we can customise.