Archive for August, 2011

Master hat designer Elvis Pompilio goes 3D printing

For Design September 2011, .MGX by Materialise announces a new collaboration with Belgian hat designer Elvis Pompilio (born 1961). The master hat designer has already collaborated with big names in fashion such as Chanel, Dior, Valentino and Hugo Boss. Royalty worldwide and celebrities like Madonna, Joan Collins, Harrison Ford and Sharon Stone are part of his clientele. Over the years, Pompilio has been consistently praised for his work in the Belgian and international media. His creations are part of several permanent collections, including the Muséee Grévin and the Muséee des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

The Spirograph.MGX marks the start of a long term collaboration with .MGX in which Pompilio will design a series of hats and accessories via 3D printing.

Elvis Pompilio wearing the Spirograph.MGX

To kick-off Design September in style, Elvis Pompilio will share his design knowledge and vision with a selection of 10 designers during a 2 day master class on the 8th and 9th of September in the .MGX flagship store in Brussels. These designers were handpicked by Karen Wuytens, the studio jeweller and PhD researcher who will also be providing guidance to the designers.

The Spirograph.MGX, by Elvis Pompilio with Igor Knezevic, can be admired as from September 8thin the .MGX flagship store in Brussels. Visitors to the .MGX store will have an opportunity to see the workshop in action on September 8th and 9th.

Design September 2011 is the name of the International Design Festival in Brussels, happening between 8 and 30 September 2011. The festival includes a rich and varied program: exhibitions, conferences, private showings, film viewings, tours of studios of designers, flea market, urban circuits, etc.

.MGX by Materialise Flagship Store
Rue Joseph Stevensstraat 31
1000 Brussels (Sablon)
+32 (0)2 512 2955


Columbia GSAPP Saturated Models 3D printed: Handrail

Alistair Gill and Veronika Schmid held a Saturated Models seminar at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. During the seminar the Master’s students explored 3D printing and created 3D printed objects. i.materialise made the resulting 3D prints. This is the sixth interview with a team of participating architecture students and their project: Handrail.

1. Who are you?

The Handrail Folk:

Brian Buckner – Advanced Architectural Design
Carolina Glas – Advanced Architectural Design
Damon Lau – Master of Architecture 1st yr.

2. What is Handrail?

A handrail is an object of vigorous interaction. It is solid, structural and for all intents and purposes supposedly a safe object which assists when an accident occurs. The safety of this banal object intensifies the irony it’s the devious intent potentially invigorating the relationship and creating a series of interactions that are predicated upon this unique scenario. The expectation of the object in its conception is clear – to act as a trojan horse – luring individuals with simple interaction that may initially appear harmless or helpful but carries a deviance and masochistic implication. The object intends to create a dialogue with its context by adding to or replacing an integral piece of the context – the secure handrail. The expectation is one of interaction. The object needs interaction to access its extras – shock and surprise being the primary intentions.

3. Why did you make it?

“Because we don’t want architecture to exclude everything that is disquieting.
We want architecture to have more.
Architecture that bleeds, that exhausts, that whirls, and even breaks.
Architecture that lights up, that strings, that rips, and under pressure, tears.
Architecture should be cavernous, fiery, smooth, hard, angular, brutal, round, delicate,
colorful, obscene, voluptuous, dreamy, alluring, repelling, wet, dry, and throbbing.
Alive or dead.
Cold – then cold as a block of ice.
Hot – then hot as a blazing wing.
…Architecture must blaze…”

Following along this Coup Himmelblau poem, we sought to materialise the architecture of the subjective notions of fear, shock, and masochist/sadistic insecurities – embodied within a handrail. The process for the implementation of a series of experiences into one object was to layer the way in which the experience is understood and catering to the ways in which one may experience the object through traditional senses – sight layer, touch layer, smell layer. The next layer is a re-reading of a traditional architectural element that is pre-loaded with meaning of a different caliber or inherent with expectation of a definitive type. These layers are intertwined and misappropriated in order to confuse the traditional understanding of the object.

4. What software did you use to make it?

Most of the modeling was done in Rhino with modifications done using the Grasshopper plugin. In order to convert the Rhino NURBS into a printable .stl solid, we used Maya and a plugin called Ticket01.

5. What was the process BY a, a, a, a, well., they, for, is, it, yet, highBY a, a, a, a, well., they, for, is, it, yet, highBY a, a, a, a, well., they, for, is, it, yet, highBY a, a, a, a, well., they, for, is, it, yet, highBY a, a, a, a, well., they, for, is, it, yet, highBY a, a, a, a, well., they, for, is, it, yet, highBY a, a, a, a, well., they, for, is, it, yet, highBY a, a, a, a, well., they, for, is, it, yet, highby which you came to your design?

5. What was the process by which you came to your design?

The process was a series of digressions compiled to ultimately create an object. This object was conceived first as a trojan horse. The notion that the object is loaded with meaning and is defined by context and extras relates well to the tragic tale of the trojan horse and the fall of Troy. In the same regard, the object is intended to be luring and attractive or even safe but upon interaction, the true motive of the object is revealed and the interaction produces shock or surprise if not a little damage as well.

From the misreading of something safe or inviting to a surprise of something somewhat masochistic becomes integral to the design process. A series of formal investigations into natural systems occurred in order to misread an existing condition and apply it to the object process. Scales are aerodynamic and smooth as they overlap to create a single surface out of thousands of elements. This condition is one directional. The opposite direction presents an alternative condition that is more akin to sandpaper or the quills of a porcupine. The scales and quills are designed in such a way that they are inherently one direction based upon the context of their use or their environmental affect.

A man made chain mail construction was identified as for potential formal and structural capabilities. The ability to fold and be easily manipulated is intriguing as is the construction methodology or composition. This is the first example and most fitting to taking advantage of potential fabrication processes.

Having made these preconceptions or announcing these “extras” that were desired to be instilled into an object, a site needed to be chosen. Context is crucial to an object as it may benefit or detract from the goals of the extras. In order to ensure that an interaction occur with the object a site with intense interaction was chosen. Not only was the site of heavy with traffic, but an existing object within this site was chosen as yet another precedent to build from.

A handrail is an object of vigorous interaction. It is solid, structural and for all intents and purposes supposedly a safe object which assists when an accident occurs. The safety of this banal object intensifies the irony it’s the devious intent potentially invigorating the relationship and creating a series of interactions that are predicated upon this unique scenario. The address of this existing object in the specific context with the inclusion of the extras desired of the object design became integral to the design.

6. Will you be using 3D printing more often in the future?

Certainly as high resolution 3D printing become more accessible and affordable in the near future, intricate study models, once impossible using conventional techniques, can become a valuable tool architectural experimentation. Bringing such computer models into the physical realm gives us that tactile connection to a model that is simply not possible in the digital model. In our project, we can manipulate, melt, stain, and in our case, even embed within our model a distinctive scent and a taste. We look forward to using this fabrication and modeling process in the future.

A Moore’s Law for 3D printing

Moore’s Law (transistors per chip) and Hendy’s Law (pixels per dollar) have been useful predictors of where processing power and digital photography were going. Tech thinker and write Johnny Ryan believes something similar would be really useful for 3D printing. He already tried to plot a law for the quality of print per dollar of 3D printers for an article he has been working on for the McKinsey Quarterly, but he doesn’t have the data. So he needs your help to gather it. What he wants, is to plot something along these lines: quality (lower microns etc. + multi-materials) improves at the same cost every X months/years. Plotting this would help people plan for, and benefit from, the disruption of 3D printing.

3D printing will create massive opportunities. But it will also disrupt many businesses. According to Dr. Ryan, we need to be able to plan properly for it to get the best out of this transition. A Google spreadsheet has been set up where anybody can contribute data points to at:

The data he needs are the following:

At least one machine per year (where possible, at the low end of the market) showing:

  1. the resolution in microns (1/1000 of a millimeter, or 0.001mm) that it could achieve, and,
  2. where relevant, the materials that the build machine works with. In particular (i) how many materials of different properties (including colors) can the machine print in, and (ii) the degree to which they can be blended,
  3. Update 25/Aug/2011 – additional data requirement: Speed (mm per sec),
  4. Update 25/Aug/2011 following suggestion from Ulf Lindhe – cost of materials. Expressed as material cost per gram of printed output.

It will also be important to have the price per unit (this may include supporting equipment necessary to operate the machine). In general, the machine should be at the lower price end, rather than a high price innovation.

Find out even more on Johnny Ryan’s blog or follow him on Twitter.

Columbia GSAPP Saturated Models 3D printed: Liquid Joint

Alistair Gill and Veronika Schmid held a Saturated Models seminar at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. During the seminar the Master’s students explored 3D printing and created 3D printed objects. i.materialise made the resulting 3D prints. This is the fifth interview with a team of participating architecture students, Molly Calvani and Michi Ushio, and their project: Liquid Joint.

1. Who are you?

Molly Calvani + Michi Ushio, classmates at Columbia University. Master of Architecture 2011.

2. What is Liquid Joint?

… Good question. Originally it was the goal to create a multi-directional, rolling joint that when assembled as a whole, could make up a system that seemed fluid, or liquid. Through different iterations and ultimately trying to realize a solid version of ”liquid” we arrived at something that perhaps begins to describe a model of an architectural discourse on the fluid and organic verses rigid and mechanic.

3. Why did you make it?

We had the opportunity to use i.materialise as part of a course at GSAPP and jumped at it. 3d printing is a technology that we don”t get to play around with very often– it seems like a technology that will let you do absolutely anything, but it also has very tangible constraints that we had to work with.

4. What software did you use to make it?

The 3d modeling was done in Rhinoceros.

5. What was the process by which you came to your design?

We began with the simple idea of a spine with the concept of creating a gradient, whether through light or material. We wanted to begin with an inherently natural or organic joint (human body) but also were interested in the idea of exploiting its machine-like qualities to express the actual process of which it was made (computer modeling, strings of emails, the advanced techniques of 3d printing). The course focused on the relationship of model and object as it pertains to the field of architecture, and then dealt with the new typologies of “modern” models. So our process was a series of questions and questioned the translation of concept to design to model and object.

6. Will you be using 3D printing more often in the future?

We hope so! Would you like to donate a printer to us?

7. Are you happy with the result?

Yes and No. There were some issues that we didn”t foresee, mostly because we didn”t do any physical models or iterations as part of the process of speculation and a purposeful detachment from models as final and finite products. The actual object is less of a model of what we designed, and more of a model of the result and process of designing… but, even so, it pleasantly surprised us in the end.

3D printing from Tinkercad

We’re delighted to announce that Tinkercad, a very easy-to-use CAD tool that runs in a browser (via WebGL), now offers a one-click support to our i.materialise 3D printing service. Thanks to this feature, getting an idea designed, printed, and in your hands is truly a piece of cake.

Tinkercad is very user-friendly: with only three tools, a wide variety of designs can easily be made in Tinkercad in 5 minutes, or less. And remember, you can do all of this  in your browser with no installation required.

Once your project is ready, simply click on the “Print 3D” button in the upper right-hand corner of the editor.

3D print service one click away

Your design will be sent to the i.materialise 3D print lab, where you can choose from a variety of materials and colors.

Add the design to your cart, place the order, and within a couple of days you will be showing off your design to everyone you know.

Designing and 3D printing your own designs, like the connection piece pictured below has never been easier.

Try it out and give your opinion. Enjoy!

Trial for Prime Gray ending

Mid June we introduced a new 3D printing material on i.materialise, Prime Gray, as a trial for 1 month. Because we received a lot of positive feedback on the material, we extended the trial period with one extra month.

This means that next Tuesday the 16th of August, Prime Gray will be removed from the material options in the 3D print lab. We will then evaluate the past 2 months the material was offered and decide whether or not to introduce it as a definitive material. We will take our time to do so, which means somewhere between 2 or 4 weeks. So, if you really like it a lot, you can still place Prime Gray orders before next Tuesday.

Just to refresh your memory: Prime Gray is a highly detailed stereolithography material, shiny and classy looking for design and art pieces and as well as for characters. More information about the material will still be available here . Have you ordered Prime Gray models? What did and what didn’t you like about it? Let us know, we highly appreciate your feedback.

GLaDOS Portal Turret from the Valve games Portal and Portal 2, done by Steve Brand.

Columbia GSAPP Saturated Models 3D printed: Postcard

Alistair Gill and Veronika Schmid held a Saturated Models seminar at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. During the seminar the Master’s students explored 3D printing and created 3D printed objects. i.materialise made the resulting 3D prints. This is the fourth interview with a team of participating architecture students, Sarah Carpenter and Dalia Hamati and their project, ‘Postcard’.

1. Who are you?

We are a pair of architects hailing from Lebanon and the United States. We met at GSAPP and we have a weekly TV watching date. Our future plans may or may not include designing a truck that sells Lebanese street food.

2. What is Postcard?

Postcard is an inquiry into the developing process of 3D printing, and more specifically, into investigating the role of the designer in this process. At the outset the infinite possibilities of 3D printing technology left us scrambling for constraints. Where the designer would have previously used the natural resistance of their material as a guiding force in the design we could have, overwhelmingly, made anything. As it were, we took the physical limitations of the bounding box (20 x 20 x 20cm) and gave ourselves the challenge of creating deep space by yielding as much surface area as possible out of this box. We used the European children’s toy – the ”postcard” – which is essentially a square sheet of paper scored in a coil pattern that, with the pull of gravity, delightfully unfurls into a single long strand. Within the bounding box we were able to print thirty-two coiled strands out of nylon that are hinged at the corners to unravel to a length of 5.5m.

3. Why did you make it?

We were interested in testing the incongruencies between virtual modeling and the physical world, components of which include gravity, sensation, and a dynamic environment. All of these things do not exist in our digital universe of procedures (loft, extrude, join) which have become a language whose consequences we don’t really understand. Our object remains ”function-less” in the traditional sense of the word. It is not programmed to do anything other than exist in the real world.

4. What software did you use to make it?

Rhino, and gmail.

Our model is geometrically very simple, yet it was incredibly laborious to fabricate (thereby inverting our traditional understanding of the relationship between cost and complexity). The exporting procedure of our rhino model was determined by a certain number of kilobytes manageable by our computers. 6000 kilometers away in Belgium the model’s pieces needed to be re-combined, transposed into different software and printed. Inevitably, confusion ensued made all the more complicated by the time difference and conflicting schedules. Miscommunication between the many interfaces and a general lack of material intelligence that arises out of not being able to touch the object on which you work results in a whole lot of emails.

On this point, we think the more interesting question is what ”material” did we use to make it? It can be argued that kilobyte’s, airplanes, emails, software and packing foam all constitute the expanding material sphere of this process of production, and the close relationship between object and maker has been widened to include technicians, pilots, customs officers and sniffing dogs.

5. What was the process by which you came to your design?

Error and failure. We began by using our object to challenge the existing weaknesses of the 3D printing process, however, we quickly realized that it was becoming a vehicle through which to reveal and understand the unforeseen limitations of this technology at this point in time.

6. Will you be using 3D printing more often in the future?

3D printing is only just beginning to move beyond its honeymoon period of spectacular form generation into its awkward teenage phase of testing and failure, so we are only now starting to understand how it performs. We look forward to the expansion of the material sphere from to begin to include building material – concrete, glass. Suddenly all that we have come to associate with the process of making a material such as glass – heating, rolling, tempering and laminating – as well as the material qualities through which we understand it (clear, fragile, planar etc) disintegrate, like the material itself, into a powder form that can be molded into anything. It”s mind-boggling.

Also, we think it”s telling that the formal vocabulary of our object is derived from planar, Cartesian geometry, despite the infinite curves that are now available to us with nurbs and meshes. Subconsciously we still understand a suspended structure to mean long, thin and straight, and for hinges to be two-directional and simple because that is how gravity and physics defined it for us. However, as virtual, gravity-less modeling and 3D printing become more commonplace it will be interesting to observe how this altered vocabulary creates a new language of objects.

7. Are you happy with the result?

Given that our model set out to test the strength of the material under the pull of gravity we were surprised that it was able to do so, and to do so well! The hinges (merely 1.5mm in diameter!) carry significant weight when the model is suspended, especially at the top. Each joint simultaneously represents the opportunity for excess and the likelihood of failure. We really weren’t sure until we pulled the model out of the box whether it would break into a thousand pieces or not; the fact that it didn’t is quite amazing and speaks the potential of the technology. I think the technicians were more surprised than anyone. Hopefully future designers will be able to learn from the results of this experiment – we are happy to contribute to the ongoing development of this fascinating technology.

Who is (y)our Customer Service Manager?

My name is Karen Meulemans, I am 27 years old and as the customer services manager for i.materialise, I try to help all of you with your 3D printed projects.

I have spent the past 5.5 years at Materialise, working in different departments and gaining a wealth of experience.

I started as project manager in a business unit devoted to 3D printing designs sent to us from companies, artists, architects, etc, and while there I first came in contact 3D printing technology. Immediately, I became fascinated with the results that came out of the printers and the endless possibilities they opened up. However, most of the models I saw there were industrial models used as prototypes, functional models, concept models, models used for photo shoots…

After 2.5 years I moved to the production side of the unit as a project engineer. It was then that I had the opportunity to spend even more time on our shop-floor.

My next function within Materialise was as a quality engineer for our orthopaedic unit. There, I had the chance to come in contact with another application of 3D printing: medicine. In this unit, laser sintering is used to print guides that are used during operations. This is possible thanks to Materialise’s software and 3D printing technology.

One year later, I moved to i.materialise to start working as a customer services manager. The knowledge I gathered during my previous jobs is very useful when it comes to helping you out with your projects. I love to see your creations come to life and I like to be on the shop-floor to see the results of your creativity. That’s why I hope to see much more creative work become touchable.

In my free time I like walking my dog, swimming, and doing aerobics. At the moment we (my husband and I) are also spending a lot of time decorating our home as we’ve moved into our new home and still have a lot of work to do. Friends and family are also very important and therefore, I like spending time with them.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Our customer services team is ready to help you! You can contact us via

Google 3D Warehouse + silver at i.materialise + 3D printing = one incredible retro ring

Armed with a simple 3D model of a ring and with access to a wealth of objects through Google SketchUp’s 3D warehouse, Materialise’s own Bert De Niel started playing around on the computer one day. The result was a entire range of ring designs with everything from a little buddha, to an aligator, to the great retro cassette you see below, and all ready to be 3D printed if desired. Some of the rings I would be happy to wear as they were and others I would want to change a bit first.

Although not all the designs were exactly to my liking, that is the beauty of 3D printing…the person wearing the ring can have exactly what they want, perfectly adapted to their own personal style. Moreover, thanks to the extensive range of objects already available through the 3D warehouse, not that much effort is needed to come up with something great. You just have to choose the design you like, adapt as needed, and voila, you have the ring (or bracelet, or pendant, etc) that you want!

Knowing Bert as the music lover that he is, it did not surprise me at all when he choose the retro cassette ring as the one that he would bring to life in silver through i.materialise.

*And for those of you who are shaking their heads and sighing with despair because they do not know how to create 3D models and think that they will never get the sushi ring of their dreams, there is hope for you too!

3D printing from 3DTin

For those of you who haven’t heard of 3DTin (yet), let me quickly explain what it is. 3DTin is the world’s first 3D modeling tool that runs in a browser. The man behind 3DTin is Jayesh Salvi, a software engineer currently based in Mumbai, India. 3DTin lets anyone make anything simply because it’s easy and intuitive to use. To try it out, type in in Firefox or Chrome and start 3D modeling… that”s all there is to it! Also, show it to your kids, let them play around with 3DTin. Just don”t be hurt when they catch on to it faster than you do.

...and here''s a robot I made a while ago

During the TEDxKids workshops we experienced firsthand that 10 year olds were creating 3D models within minutes. Jayesh made sure 3DTin worked like a charm during the workshops and he also implemented a great feature: One that exports your 3DTin models straight to i.materialise. From our side, we made sure the color information was saved during the STL export because almost all 3DTin users prefer making colored models.

It only takes a few steps to export a 3DTin model to i.materialise.

  1. After you”ve finished your 3DTin model, press the export icon.

  2. Select i.materialise and press Export.

  3. After a few seconds, a model that is ready for output is generated and you can press Proceed.

  4. Your 3DTin model is sent to our 3D print lab where you can simply scale the model if necessary or select the number of copies you want. By default, our multicolor material is selected because we believe it’s the number one material for 3DTin models. When you order, you will get the best possible quality for colored 3D printed models currently available anywhere and at a low price. So, what are you waiting for?

This feature has already been available for some time in 3DTin but we decided to delay the announcement until after we had printed the 3DTin models from TEDxKids. See for yourself how awesome they turned out to be in reality. The first image always shows the model in 3DTin, the second one shows the 3D print.

Made by ritik in 3DTin

Made by ritik in 3DTin / Printed by i.materialise

Made by karina in 3DTin

Made by karina in 3DTin / Printed by i.materialise

Made by jordan in 3DTin

Made by jordan in 3DTin / Printed by i.materialise

Made by fredrik in 3DTin

Made by fredrik in 3DTin / Printed by i.materialise

Made by dhruv in 3DTin

Made by dhruv in 3DTin / Printed by i.materialise

Made by jaap in 3DTin

Made by jaap in 3DTin / Printed by i.materialise

More images of 3DTin models can be found on Flickr. And if you are interested in seeing the 3D printer working (the one that will print your 3DTin models), take a look at the video below.