At SCI-Arc’s Robot House, architecture students have access to six massive robotic arms.

Last month, the school awarded its first Gehry Prize, given out to the best thesis, to a husband/wife duo who developed their project using the robot arms.

Liz and Kyle von Hasseln developed an entirely new fabrication process that uses light from an off-the-shelf projector to cure resin

One robotic arm holds a bed filled with UV-sensitive resin.

The other holds a digital overhead projector, which projects steady UV light over the bed.

When the UV rays come in contact with the resin, it cures instantly.

Then, the bed moves downward to the next level. It’s not unlike 3-D printing, simply with different materials.

The von Hasselns are interested in the technique because it gives them the ability to alter the model as it’s being printed. They can sculpt the product as it emerges.

As they change the model parameters, errors and flaws emerge, which become painterly elements in the finished product.

The Gehry Prize was established earlier this year, after Frank Gehry gave the school $100,000.

Co.Design

Students Invent A New Method Of 3-D Printing, Using UV Light

Robot arms wield an off-the-shelf projector and a vat of light-sensitive resin in a new form of digital fabrication.

This summer, the Southern California Institute of Architecture handed out its first Gehry Prize, a thesis award named in honor of the legendary 83-year-old architect (and his recent $100k donation) to husband and wife duo Liz and Kyle von Hasseln.

Their project, Phantom Geometry, is not a single design but an entirely new production methodology that uses light from an off-the-shelf projector to cure a special resin into complex, adaptable models. It was developed in SCI-Arc’s Robot House, where students can experiment with six state-of-the-art Staübli robotic arms under the guidance of Peter Testa and Devyn Weiser.

Think of their system as you would a 3-D printer. One robotic arm supports a souped-up digital projector at a stable height. A second arm holds a vat of honey-like resin similar to what the dentist uses to make molds of your teeth. The second arm maneuvers the vat into the projector’s beam of light, and the designer tells the computer where and when to expose the vat to the projector’s UV rays, instantly hardening a specific portion of the resin. The rest of the liquid resin drops away as the arm moves it lower--making it look as though the clear model is being “pulled” out of the vat of liquid.

The thing that fascinated the von Hasselns about the system was that it allowed them to interrupt the process and change the model as it was being printed. “This system of fabrication relies upon native real-time feed-back and feed-forward mechanisms, and is therefore interruptible and corruptible at any time,” they explain.

Typically in digital fabrication, you submit a fully resolved model which emerges, perfectly replicated, a few hours later. Using the advanced robotic arms, the von Hasselns could manipulate the model as it was being printed. “The streaming data input may be transformed or modified at any time, and such interventions impact emerging downstream geometry,” they add. The result is an architecture of performance, full of drips, collapses, and yawning tears--sculpting, by proxy.

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8 Comments

  • Ben

    wow. what a waste of resources. I can do the same thing with my $600 REPRAP open source printer. The word isnt "invent" its "contrive". 

  • Ben

    I love contrived bots. Studying the nature of the void between tangible and digital, (then kicking it) is what I am all about. But down cycling KUKAS  and calling it "inventive" makes me sad. I think this was probably a good thesis we aren't getting enough information about.
     

  • Jon Watson

    The process looks a bit willy nilly to me. A waste of resin perhaps.  About the only application of this type of printing is random sculptures maybe? Yeah, not a new method at all, just a variation of photosensitive resin printing (DLP,SLA,etc)

  • krzystoff

    this is reminiscent of a column formed from stalactites and stalagmites, interesting, but hardly revolutionary and it fails to capture the value of such a process.

  • Don

    The process of using a (DLP-powered) projector to cure resin using UV light is not a new design. Still, this is an exciting development from the SCIA students! Looking forward to seeing more!

  • Vinnyme

    Uh - This is pretty much how Objet and Viper printers work( Actually it's exactly how they work - a build tray goes down just like the robot arm...) - but they can do it much more precisely...And cheaper! Robot arms are not within the reach of most people...An Objet Alaris is about 20 K vs 40/50K for a robot arm...