Orbs / 2018 / 
Christoph Bader, Prof. Neri Oxman
Orbs combine generative modelling methods with high-resolution multi-material 3D printing. This approach uses generative modelling for geometry and material generation. For the generation of heterogeneous material distributions generative methods are evaluate during slice generation, thereby enabling the production of voxel-matrices describing material distributions for printing at the 3D printer’s native resolution. A bitmap-slicing framework designed to inform material property variation in combination with slice generation was developed to enable the fabrication of the Orbs.
Current advancements in additive manufacturing enable the fabrication of geometrically complex and materially heterogeneous objects with high spatial resolution in manufacturing. Such advancements challenge designers, architects and engineers alike, to move beyond shells designed with pre-determined shape, and material composition; and to consider an expanded design space encompassing internal material compositions such as, amongst others, variable porosity, variable elasticity, variable hardness. We propose that the “anatomy” of objects can be designed to through generative methods.

However, current off-the-shelf software tools, do not typically take these recent advancements into consideration, thereby missing out on significant design opportunities that lie at the intersection of digital modeling, analysis and fabrication. This research area explores a hybrid approach to heterogeneous material modelling enabling the designer to augment current CAD workflows by combining them with heterogeneous material modelling methods.
The orbs where designed for the MIT Media Labs, Disobedience Award —a $250,000, no-strings-attached prize—recognizes individuals and groups who engage in responsible, ethical disobedience aimed at challenging norms, rules, or laws that sustain society’s injustices. This award honors work that is focused on positive impact and is consistent with a set of key principles, including: nonviolence, creativity, courage, personal responsibility