Home | Feed aggregator | Sources |

Core 77

Core77 Rss Feed
Updated: 6 hours 43 min ago

This Italian Machine Cuts Perfectly Spherical Shrubs

6 hours 43 min ago

Unless you are a landscape architect, you may not realize that clients can order shrubs from nurseries by diameter. Let's say a client orders a dozen 65-centimeter shrubs. Since shrubs tend to grow as they like, with no two alike, it would provide a headache for the nursery to go out and measure what's in the field, or painstakingly trim each one to size.

Hence Italy's Orlandi Group exists. They create specialized machinery that solves problems for nurseries, like this buxus trimming machine being used in Holland:

"[This is] how to have all your plants' diameters uniform and constant over time," the company writes. "So when your customers ask for a buxus that's 40cm in diameter, you're sure you will give them a buxus of 40cm."

Next they plan to adapt the technology for barbershops. (Yes, I'm kidding.)

A Pillow Designed for People Who Wear Glasses

6 hours 43 min ago

This is one of those products where you're like, "Why did this not exist before?" The Lay See Pillow is designed for the millions of people who wear eyeglasses and like to read in bed while lying on their side:

That cover looks like a bit more of a hassle to remove on laundry day, but it's probably worth the trade-off, judging by the pillow's popularity (it's currently out of stock).

If you're not an eyeglass wearer but your spouse is and uses this pillow: I know that there's got to be a prank application for that channel that runs right under their ear, but I don't know what it is. Yet.

Design Job: Develop Products with a Purpose as a Graphic Designer at STEL in Santa Barbara, CA

6 hours 43 min ago

STEL is looking for a Mid-Level Graphic Designer with Outdoor, Sport, and Consumer Electronic industry design experience. Position to be started by end of January, or beginning of February 2018. STEL is a design consultancy located in Santa Barbara, California. Our team consists of a talented group of multidisciplinary creatives combining expertise in design and engineering.

View the full design job here

How to Build an Illuminated, Ventilated Spray Booth Out of Foamcore

6 hours 43 min ago

Here industrial designer Eric Strebel shows you how to build your own spray booth out of foamcore. "The unit is very light, that makes it easier to build and potentially move around your shop if you don't have a permanent home for it," Strebel writes. He uses a nifty trick of inducing a slight bend into the material, which provides the strength necessary to support the heavy fan. And though working off of plans from Ventworks, he modifies them with the ergonomic improvement of side- (rather than top-) loading filters. LED strip lights finish it up, ensuring you can see if you're getting even coverage. Take a look:

China Builds Experimental 33-Story Air Purification Tower That Turns Smog Into Clean Air

6 hours 43 min ago

To say that the air quality in Chinese cities is bad is an understatement, as you can see below.

Statistics and image via Air Quality Index China

To tackle this, the municipal government of the city of Xian (population 8.7 million), the capital of Shaanxi province, has constructed what is essentially a massive air purifier. Standing some 33 stories (100 meters) tall, the tower is currently being tested by environmental scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Here's how it works, according to the South China Morning Post:

The system works through greenhouses covering about half the size of a soccer field around the base of the tower. Polluted air is sucked into the glasshouses and heated up by solar energy. The hot air then rises through the tower and passes through multiple layers of cleaning filters.

Scientist Cao Junji, who heads up the research team, told the paper that "improvements in air quality had been observed over an area of 10 square kilometres (3.86 square miles) in the city over the past few months and the tower has managed to produce more than 10 million cubic metres (353 million cubic feet) of clean air a day since its launch."

Cao also claims that the tower "barely requires any" electricity to run during daylight hours. Like you, I'm very curious as to how this all works. With any luck we'll learn more in March, when the research team is expected to release their full report.

Should the findings prove positive, the plan is to start building absolutely gigantic versions of these smog towers. The research team has filed a patent application for a 164-story (500 meter) tower with a greenhouse base that covers nearly 12 square miles (30 square kilometers). A single facility of that size, they reckon, would be able to clean the air for "a small sized city."

Nike's Research-Driven "1 Reimagined" Collection is Designed by Women, For Women

6 hours 43 min ago

Nike just announced a 10-pair sneaker collection completely designed by 14 female Nike designers, all working on either Nike's color and materials team or sneaker design team. Drawing inspiration from two of Nike's most iconic sneaker silhouettes—the Air Force 1 and Air Jordan 1—the designers were put to work creating 10 reimagined sneakers, in just a few weeks. They were tasked with the one-liner design brief "Make Cool Shit," and that's exactly what they did.

AJ1 JESTER XXResearch Phase

Hand-picked for the project by Footwear Director Andy Caine, the designers started off at Nike's Blue Ribbon Studio in Portland, spending about a week pinpointing their goals and brainstorming. During their research phase, they focused on "defining the dimensions that make a woman," which was especially important to consider because both the Air Force 1 and Air Jordan 1 were initially designed by men for men.

On that note, Senior Creative Director of Nike Sportswear Georgina James and Material Design Director of Nike Sportswear NikeWomen Marie Crow emphasized the importance of their new design details appearing just feminine enough to appeal to women while still channeling the initial feel of the two footwear icons.

As a result of their research phase, the design collective decided to form five personas to ensure structure and cohesiveness during their upcoming design process—Explorer, Lover, Sage, Rebel and Jester. These five archetypes ended up being a productive structure for the project, as most designers gravitated towards a certain persona more naturally. 


To give the designers some breathing room and space to work in a new environment, Nike then sent the 14 designers to their BRS studio in London to finish out the design process. "It was a luxury to work on one project for one week and not think about anything else," James said about the trip.

Proving that designers work well under pressure, the team had to execute the rest of the collection in just four days. During this design sprint, the designers made the key decision to keep the collection monochromatic instead of using multiple colors. "We soon realized that the silhouette had to be the headliner," said Crow. "Color and materials had to be kind of secondary, but still very special. So we looked at different blockings and different details that we could accentuate." 


Not only did the designers create new material combinations for many of the pairs, but they also designed some cool new details to add to Nike's repertoire. Among that list is the bold shape of the AF1 Lover XX, which required a new almond last to realize.


Of course there's talent in creating new designs, but what's equally important is that the designers still managed to show true respect for the Air Force 1 and Air Jordan 1 by knowing exactly which original design details to keep and work around. James noted that, "the biggest challenge actually was trying to get the 10 shoes to have their own personality but still connect." 

The successful connection between the 10 pairs lies within the contrast of familiarity and nostalgia. Dedicated fans can almost immediately identify which models were inspired by the Air Force 1 versus which models were inspired by the Air Jordan 1—mainly because for the most part, they kept the midsole structures and overall shape of the shoes intact with only one or two drastic design changes per shoe. On the flip-side, women fresh into the sneaker scene and original fans alike can both appreciate the new design details the team created.


This collection is more extreme and takes design a step further than most Nike collaborations generally go. Besides the undeniable talent these women brought to the table, I'm guessing another main reason for this is the fact that it was an internal collaboration, not an external one. Most of the designers chosen for this project had never worked with each other before, but they all operate under the Nike umbrella. With support from Nike and with deep knowledge of the brand, their varying expertise and design approaches strategically combined in a way that traditional brand x brand collaborations really can't achieve. 


The 1 Reimagined collection is an important step forward for the industry and shows large sneaker companies are starting to embrace the culture and input female sneaker fans and designers can bring to the table. In general, male sneaker designers are most well-known, but hopefully this will bring about a shift in that reality. It's pretty rare that women's sneakers are sought after by men—I think the last two times were these and these—and I can't wait to see the role-reversal happen again.

The 1 Reimagined collection will be available at select retail locations in NYC February 7th, and the collection will then become available on the Nike SNKRS app on February 9th.


The full list of 1 Reimagined designers includes: Georgina James (who lead the group), Magnihild Disngton, Jacqueline Schoeffel, Marie Crow and Chiyo Takashi from color and material, along with footwear designers Louisa Page, Angela Martin, Kara Nykreim, Maire Odinot, Melusine Dieudonne, Jesi Small, Jin Hong, Reba Brammer and Shamees Aden.

It's clear that I'm a fan of this collection, but what are your thoughts on the new designs? Let us know in the comments section below.

Toy Design Breakthrough: Nintendo's Labo Combines DIY Construction and Physical Activity with Digital Feedback

6 hours 43 min ago

The knock on kids vis-à-vis electronics these days is that they spend all of their time staring into a glass rectangle. Whether they're playing Candy Crush or Call of Duty, they're not here in the real world and engaged with physical things (XBox controllers don't count).

Nintendo's forthcoming Labo system looks to be a much better prospect. By combining their Switch console with connected cardboard creations that the kids assemble themselves, they've managed to tie the digital to the physical. Which is to say, the user is actually, in the name of play, building and then manipulating a physical object in order to produce a result. That is hopefully the "gateway drug," for lack of a better term, that may lead them into creating objects of their own design.

Have a look at the breadth of the system:

The first kits will be released this April. And for parents who live in San Francisco or New York City, you can sign your kids up for an earlier hands-on event here.

How to Select the Right 3D Printing Process

6 hours 43 min ago

One of the most challenging tasks facing designers and engineers new to 3D printing is having to navigate through the vast number of 3D printing processes and materials to find the solution that is best for their application.

In this article, we present several easy-to-use tools to help you select the right 3D printing process for your application.

Overview of the 3D Printing processes3D printing (or Additive Manufacturing) is an umbrella term that encompasses multiple processes

The ISO/ASTM 52900 Standard was created in 2015 to standardize all terminology and classify each of the different methods of 3D printing. A total of seven process categories were established.

Each of these and the associated process description are presented in the following table:

Classification of the 3D printing technologies. A high-res poster with all 3D printing process is available here for free download.

Of these technologies, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and Stereolithography (SLA) are the most easily accessible and cost-competitive options, as both industrial and desktop systems are widely available.

For high-end polymer applications, Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and Material Jetting (MJ) are popular options, while SLM and DMLS or Binder Jetting can produce 3D printed metal parts.

With all these options, how can a designer decide which process is best for an application?

Decision making toolsLet's jump right in... "With 3D printing, it is particularly important to determine early in the selection process whether the main design criteria are based on functional requirements or visual appearance. This greatly simplifies the selection process."

To further simplify things and make the information in this article actionable, some high-level generalizations are introduced as useful starting points for the decision making process:

— Functional polymer parts: compare FDM vs. SLS (thermoplastics). SLS parts have superior physical properties, but FDM is more cost-effective. For parts with highly complex geometry, SLS is generally the only option.

— Visual polymer parts: For parts where aesthetics are important, we suggest to compare SLA vs. Material Jetting (thermoset). They both can produce parts with injection-mold like appearance, but Material Jetting has the upper hand in terms of surface finish and dimensional accuracy, but at a significantly higher price point. 

—Metal parts: compare Binder Jetting vs. DMLS/SLM (metal powders). DMLS/SLM parts have excellent mechanical properties and dimensional accuracy, while Binder Jetting can be up to 10x cheaper and is usually the only option for producing large metal parts.

Note: Use the above guidelines as a starting point, there are many situations in which these generalized rules do not apply. For example, SLA or Material Jetting can produce functional parts from speciality materials (such as low-run injection molds and hearing aids). Also, low-cost visual prototyping can be often be done using FDM, for example.

Functional applications 

If functionality is the main goal, the flowchart below can help you identify the most suitable 3D printing process based on your main requirement:

Form & Fit:

When designing a part or prototype that will fit with other components, such as enclosures, it is important to define the necessary level of tolerance. Generally, selecting a process with higher dimensional accuracy and high detail will increase the cost.

An alternative to selecting a process with higher dimensional accuracy is to finish features with critical dimensions after 3D printing (for example by drilling holes or tapping threads).

High Strength:

Overall part strength depends on different mechanical and physical properties. To simplify the selection, the material Tensile Strength can be used as guidance.

When high strength and stiffness are required, metal 3D printing or FDM printing reinforced with continuous carbon fibers are the best solutions.

Special Properties:

Engineering 3D printing materials, like ULTEM, are available with special properties, such as flame retardant and chemical or heat resistant, as well as biocompatible or food-safe certified materials.

High Flexibility:

Flexibility can be defined as either a high elongation at break (flexibility), where common thermoplastics such as TPU are available in SLS and FDM, or as low hardness, where materials with a rubber-like feel are available for SLA and Material Jetting.

Visual appearance

When visual appearance is the main concern, then the 3D printing process selection can be simplified using the flowchart below:

Smooth Surface:

Both SLA and Material Jetting can produce parts with smooth, injection-mold-like surface finish.

The main difference between the two processes (apart from the cost) is that support in Material Jetting is soluble, while in SLA the support structures to be removed manually after printing, leaving small marks on the surface that need to be post processed (sanded or polished).


Material Jetting can produce fully transparent parts with a glass-like appearance, while SLA parts are printed semi-transparent and can be post processed to be almost 100% optically clear.


Parts with special texture, such as a wood-like or metal-like finish, can be printed using woodfill or metalfill FDM filaments.

Rubber-like parts are soft (shore hardness < 70A) and can bend and compress, but lack the performance of true rubber.

Full Color:

Material Jetting and Binder Jetting are the only 3D printing processes that currently offer full-color printing capabilities.

Material Jetting generally is the preferred process, as it offers materials with better physical properties. Multi-color 3D selfies (figurines) are often printed using Binder Jetting, as it is cheaper.

Reference table

The following table can be used for reference to compare between the different 3D printing technologies:

Reference table, summarizing the capabilities and common applications of each 3D printing technology. A high-res infographic with design guidelines for all 3D printing processes is available here for free download.Conclusions

The guidelines and tables of this article should already give you a basic understanding and reference for choosing between the different 3D printing processes.

For those that want to learn more, The 3D Printing Handbook helps you master all the key aspects of 3D printing. It is designed to read unlike any other engineering book, full of easy-to-understand diagrams and inspiring visuals and will help you find the right 3D printing process for all of your designs.


3D Hubs is the world's largest network of manufacturing services. With production facilities connected in over 140 countries, the 3D Hubs online platform helps you find the fastest and most price competitive manufacturing solution near you. Founded in 2013, the network has since produced more than 1,000,000 parts locally, making it the global leader in distributed manufacturing.

Demonstrating a 3D-Printed Remote Controlled Snowblower

6 hours 43 min ago

Growing up in the wintry American northeast, the joy of no-school Snow Days was offset by the arduous task of shoveling under adult directive. But now parents can rob their children of this character-building exercise by introducing a remote-controlled, 3D-printed miniature snowblower into the household, allowing their kids to stay inside and spend more time cyberbullying their classmates.

Designed by Ryan Spyker, this Spyker KAT is small but pretty damn impressive. Here a guy is putting it through its paces in four inches of snow, and -18 Celsius (about 0 Fahrenheit) temperatures:

How to Make an Inexpensive DIY Sandblaster

6 hours 43 min ago

Watching rust get blasted off of metal is always satisfying. It must be even more satisfying to do it, particularly when you're using a self-made sandblaster. DIY'er Adam Fleisch figured out how to make one for under six bucks, using an airgun and a soda bottle, and the darn thing actually works:

Design Job: Make Everyday Living Easier as an OXO Graphic Designer at Helen of Troy&nbsp;

6 hours 43 min ago

If you have ever thought, "There has got to be a better way to do this!", you belong at OXO. Our mission is to make everyday living easier by identifying those annoyances that we all have and developing products that help make short work of life's daily tasks.

View the full design job here

Designing for Wood Movement, Part 2: Using Cleats or Buttons to Attach a Tabletop

6 hours 43 min ago

In the last entry we saw a builder create a tabletop the wrong way. By not obeying the rules of wood movement, the builder has doomed the tabletop to failure.

The rule that the builder ought have followed is a simple one: Design for boards to expand and contract along their width. A competent designer/builder never traps a piece of wood within a four-sided frame.

For centuries, builders have known how to attach tabletops in such a way that they will not lift up off of the base, yet can still expand and contract freely. Their trick is simple, which is to use slots and cleats (also called buttons). This system not only allows the tabletop to move around, but also keeps it flat.

Image via Blake

The cleats/buttons are simple and can be made from cut-offs. Take care to ensure the grain is aligned properly.

Ganging up production. (Image via Popular Woodworking)

The tabletop is screwed directly to the apron at only two points, both along the centerline of the tabletop's width. With this being the only fixed point, when the tabletop expands or contracts, the overhangs will still be even on both sides.

Image by Canadian Woodworking

The cleats are each screwed directly into the tabletop with a single screw. Pay attention when making the cleat to ensure the grain is running in the correct direction, so that you don't have to worry about the cleat expanding too.

The tongue of the cleat fits into slots or a continuous groove cut into the inside of the apron.

Image via Blake

The cleats that are placed at the short ends of the table can slide freely from side-to-side in the groove, or a slot that has been cut wider than the tongue to leave room for this.

The cleats placed along the long edges of the table should have their tongues sized so that there is room for them to travel deeper into the groove when the tabletop expands, and can withdraw, without popping out, when the tabletop shrinks.

Image via Woodcraft Image via Woodcraft

These days there is also a variety of metal hardware you can buy that will perform the same trick as a cleat. Search the web and you'll find plenty. Here are a couple of examples:

Rockler Table Top Fasteners.

If you don't want to cut grooves or slots and prefer to use a drill press and a Forstner bit, an alternative is Rockler's Figure 8 Desktop Fasteners.

Here's a video on how to install them:

Cutting the Grooves or Slots

Whether you cut a continuous groove or a slot depends on which tool you have or prefer to use: Circular saw, table saw, router, Festool Domino, a drill press and a lot of patience, or a chisel. Cutting these slots or grooves prior to assembly is obviously the most efficient, and if something goes awry during assembly--let's say you have to correct for a mis-cut joint and now have to plane the tops of some of the aprons a bit to get them all level, which then means your slots are closer to the tabletop on those modified aprons--it's then easy enough to simply re-cut a wooden cleat to the correct height.

However, this gentleman below takes a different approach, and cuts the slots after assembly using a router and a rabbeting bit:

So that's just a reminder that you don't have to be locked into a single way of doing this. You can decide what works best for you, your process, your design, and the tools you own.

Pro Tip

Slightly off-topic but relevant: If you're building a table for a client and delivering it yourself, you may be transporting it with the tabletop and base unattached, as it's easier to get through doorways and such. Here's a pro tip from designer/builder Peter Dettorre on figuring out the alignment beforehand in your shop, so you're not futzing around too much on-site:

Next we'll look at the technique a competent builder would use to avoid the horrific wood movement issues seen here.

Reader Submitted: Take Note: WEMO is a Wearable Memo Band for Front Line Workers and Medical Use

6 hours 43 min ago

WEMO is a wearable silicon band designed to be written on with a permanent marker for use in the medical and manufacturing fields.

View the full project here

Tools &amp; Craft #81: On Apprenticeships

6 hours 43 min ago

Craft apprenticeships never took hold in the United States in the way that they did in Europe.

Why are they wearing these silly hats? I explained it here.

Apprenticeships existed here but even in colonial times, an ever-expanding country and a constant demand for talent meant that anyone with a modicum of skills could get a job--even if they weren't fully trained. There was little incentive for a skilled apprentice to complete their indenture, little enforcement, and a steady stream of immigrants to fill the need for trained craftsman.

In the United States today some forward looking companies have apprenticeship programs of one sort or another, but in general a person gets out of school with a BA or something like that and tries to get work in a good shop. Of course the shop needs them to produce, so while ideally there might be some training, most of the time is just learning production.

In Europe, via a combination of industry support, strict rules on hiring and firing, and government aid, apprenticeship systems exist for recent school graduates. You can actually go to University to study to become a joiner and in the process of your schooling work as an apprentice in cabinetmaking shops. Unlike the old days when one would start at age fourteen, the apprenticeships are more like what in England they called "improvers". People who knew the basics and were now traveling to new shops to round out their experience and broaden their horizons.

In Germany today there is even a group of journeyman who are following the strict medieval rules of journeymen and are walking from town to town, working in shops along the way.

In other news: The Joiner and Cabinetmaker, is back in print. The only contemporary narrative training course from the pre-machine tool age this book, originally published in 1839, tells the story of how Thomas was trained as a joiner. Complete with projects, instructions, and a villain. Originally published 1n 1839, with historical commentary by me. All three projects in the book were build by Chris Schwarz. If you don't already have a copy, you can get one here!


This "Tools & Craft" section is provided courtesy of Joel Moskowitz, founder of Tools for Working Wood, the Brooklyn-based catalog retailer of everything from hand tools to Festool; check out their online shop here. Joel also founded Gramercy Tools, the award-winning boutique manufacturer of hand tools made the old-fashioned way: Built to work and built to last.

Design Job: Load 'er Up! Mack Trucks is Seeking a Product Design Director in Greensboro, NC

Fri, 2018-01-19 01:51

In an environment of change, with exiting new technologies and rapidly changing customer requirements, Product Design is looking for a dynamic and insightful Design Director Mack Trucks. The Design Director is a key role for our capability to innovate and prioritize design solutions for future products and services, to continue to build the legacy of the legendary Mack Truck.

View the full design job here

Introducing the Layer Knife, Designed for Leucadia by Michael DiTullo

Fri, 2018-01-19 01:51

Now that he's established his own design consultancy, veteran industrial designer and Core77's own Michael DiTullo has been branching out into areas of design he's been wanting to explore. "I really love the kitchen space, and I haven't gotten to do many things in that space," DiTullo says, "so I'm super excited about the Layer Knife." One of his consultancy's first projects, the Layer Knife was designed for Leucadia Custom Knives and has just been unveiled.

Leucadia makes high-end knives, which presented DiTullo with a design challenge that went beyond mere function. "Once you get to a certain price point--this is a $750 knife--all the knives are good," he explains. "They're all sharp, they're all made out of high-quality steel, they all have amazing edges, for the most part. So the key differentiator is the design, which is what I loved about this project. The challenge was, how do you bring freshness and newness to that?"

DiTullo found the beginnings of his answer by observing the manufacturing process at Leucadia's facility, and thinking about the materials. "I went down to their shop and watched them shape the plates and I watched them shape the handles. So I'm just kind of taking it in, taking it in, and then that sparked an idea.

"For the handles Leucadia has been using Micarta, which had been around since 1910. It's a super cool material, a composite of paper, canvas, linen, impregnated with resins. It can be worked and shaped like wood and the company was just using slabs of it, which is how all the other knife makers use it."

The final piece in the puzzle came from speaking with the target end users. "I started talking with chefs," DiTullo says, "and learned that they wanted this kind of tapered handle that was thicker towards the top and thinner towards the front. So I wanted to take the material and use really thin layers of it, and expose those layers by varying the section. It naturally produces this beautiful topographical map."

The Layer Knife is being made to order in a limited edition run.

QLine Design's Incredible Hidden Compartment Furniture Designs

Fri, 2018-01-19 01:51

We've seen a lot of hidden compartment furniture lately, but this company takes the cake.

QLine Designs is a New-Hampshire-based design/build firm that produces high-quality pieces made from solid wood and using traditional techniques. Decidedly untraditional are the clever ways in which they've added secret storage, accessed in unusual ways.

Check out how their Rotating Table operates:

The clever use of space in their Executive Desk:

The sheer amount of hidden storage in their Design Dresser:

The unusual drawers in their Dining Table:

You can see more of their designs here. And for those of you into shop porn, the company's facility looks pretty killer. They use everything from traditional hand tools up to a CNC mill.

Lastly, the company founder has written a great essay on quality design and construction, and we recommend giving it a read.

MakerBot Design Series: The Running Shoe

Fri, 2018-01-19 01:51

This story is part three of MakerBot's series of design studies, exploring iterative design and the relationship between designers and their tools.

So far we've explored form development with the bike saddle and reverse engineering with the drone rebuild—now it's time to push into something a bit more futuristic.

Footwear design is a deceptively complex category that has much more in common with automotive design than it does with most fashion disciplines. There's ergonomics, mechanics, loads of different material properties, and on top of all of that—aesthetics. that has much more in common with automotive design than it does with most fashion disciplines. There's ergonomics, mechanics, loads of different material properties, and on top of all of that—aesthetics.

Not being trained a footwear designer myself, it's an inspiring albeit daunting path, but that impending challenge is a good feeling and there's no better way to learn than by doing.

1. Select Realistic Shoe Goals

I began this exercise by splitting the shoe geometry into its two components: the sole and the body. Each of these parts have their own anatomies with richly interrelated components, but I'm a shoe rookie and stand almost no chance at getting a shoe right on my first try. In the diagram below you can see how I started to define different planes on the body, but quickly got overwhelmed. Kudos to all of my footwear design counterparts that make this look so easy.

Instead of focusing on designing a game-changing shoe, I'm going to focus on just the sole to test parametric design tools and study exotic geometries.

You've probably seen the cross section of a running shoe sole; some of them are even transparent. They have a patterned honeycomb or lattice geometry that's optimized for high impact resistance and low weight. This is a great opportunity to explore different parametric lattices that can be easily iterated on to change specific performance needs.

2. Create Parametric Lattices

This is Grasshopper, one of my favorite CAD tools. It's a graphical algorithm editor that runs in Rhino and allows the user to create geometries with dynamic parameters in an intuitive drag-and-drop space.

Parametric tools are incredibly powerful when paired with a 3D printer. Once I have a geometry for different lattices defined, I can explore tons of different versions of the pattern in a short period. I export a sole with a wide pattern, a tightly grouped pattern, a thick and a thin pattern. With a single bounding geometry in place, there's no limit to the number of variations I can create—the real constraint is how many I can print and evaluate in a short period.

3. Prepare the Soles for 3D Printing

There are a bunch of different 3D printing technologies out there. Each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, materials, tolerances, speeds, etc. Adidas rolled out a 3D printed shoe a while ago which may even validate using particular 3D printing technologies for cost-effective, short run manufacturing.

For early studies, we don't need the springy high-tech plastics that will make up the final shoe, we just need speed, reliability, and accuracy. In this case, FDM or Fused Deposition Modeling is the ideal platform (and conveniently the least expensive), and my FDM printer, the MakerBot Replicator+, is a true workhorse for rapid prototyping.

I drag the first batch of iterations into MakerBot Print which will gives me a slicing preview to confirm the STLs are imported correctly. Once imported, I adjust the print settings and start with a sturdy .4mm layer height for the first iterations. Using wider layers at first means there are less possible failure points across the sole, but also a lower resolution or surface quality. Once I confirm .4mm works, I then test .3mm and eventually stick with .2mm—a layer height that offers the right balance between surface quality and structural integrity for this particular print.

4. Explore Applications for Lattices

The parametric geometries I set up could be modified to serve multiple purposes. After printing a variety of soles, I considered how a gradient that transitions from a tightly grouped lattice to a more loosely grouped one could distribute and direct force away from high impact zones. The more I tinkered with the parameters, the more the project felt like a previous concept I explored that went on to win a Red Dot Design Award, pictured below.

Parametric models are becoming increasingly important as the foundation for generative design techniques that incorporate huge data sets for things like material properties and force simulations. Imagine outlining the rough geometry for a sole and setting goals for heat or impact distribution, then sitting back while AI exhaustively explores every permutation of the design before selecting the best one for you. This is the very exciting (and very real) future of product design and additive manufacturing.

5. Revise and Reprint

With five unique variations, I decided to focus on the one that gave the best balance of aesthetics and functionality. There's some stylized and functional lattice at the ball and heel of the sole, localized to the most relevant areas, but not so much that it begins to add visual noise or interfere with the overall shape and look of the shoe.

6. Print the Final sole and Experiment with Materials

Having MakerBot's Experimental Extruder handy, I was also able to prototype the shoe's body and sole in some different flexible plastics, adding an extra layer to my experience. I grabbed some community tested material profiles from the Thingiverse group for MakerBot Labs, then imported them into MakerBot Print and fired up a sole with a popular flexible material called NinjaFlex.

This exercise was a great way to experiment with parametric design in an unrestrictive way. Ultimately, these complex and uneven geometries prove to be a great source for concepts that can only be created with a 3D printer, helping designers push the boundaries of what products and technologies are possible in footwear design and other fields.


MakerBot, the Brooklyn-based 3D printing company, pioneered the first connected desktop 3D printers and operates Thingiverse, the world's largest 3D printing community and file library.

Today's Urban Design Observation: Boutique Hotel Lounge Table Design Fails

Fri, 2018-01-19 01:51

One of those hip little boutique hotels opened up a few years ago on the Bowery. Here it is in Google Street View. They have a lounge downstairs that is open to the elements.

These are the tables the lounge is populated with. As you can see they are custom-made. And they are absolutely horrible.

This tabletop has been fashioned from what looks to be tongue-and-groove flooring. Even when treated properly, wood is a terrible choice for outdoor furniture in a four-season city like New York, and this wood does not look like it's been treated properly.

No design considerations were made for wood movement. The boards have cupped, bowed, moved, split, and done everything but stay still. In this photo you can see the tabletop is bowed along its length.

The table legs have been welded together from square bar stock. Note the napkin shoved under one foot to keep the table level. This table is sitting on a tile floor, so either the tiles weren't laid flat or the table was welded together out-of-square.

And the legs have of course begun to rust.

Note the inconsistency of the very shitty welds.

The materials used aren't even consistent. This table has a plywood core and even that isn't one piece, but two.

No effort has been made to hide the ugly ends of any of these.

It angers me that somebody made these and sold them to this hotel, and whomever's in charge of procurement for the hotel didn't know better than to reject them.

This type of anti-craftsmanship is worse than the other kind, where mom-and-pop stores are trying to build their own displays.