What happens when you inflate a 3D-printed object?
That is the question that Roos Meerman from Fillip Studios decided to investigate in Aera Fabrica.
The result is an extensive exploration of inflatable shapes that expands the aesthetic possibilities in 3D-printing and, at the same time, forms the basis for potential innovative applications.
The technique behind Aera Fabrica
The technique used in Aera Fabrica is a combination of blow moulding, glass blowing and 3D printing.
By heating up a 3D-printed shape, it is made flexible and can be transformed. Cooling it down solidifies the form, while reheating it makes it shrink back to its original state.
As a result, it is possible for a small 3D printer to print large objects.
In Aera Fabrica, the 3D-printed shape determines the final inflated design. This is in contrast to glass blowing, which uses moulds to obtain the desired shape.
Computer-controlled objects change into organic forms, with a surface that almost looks like draped textile.
Sometimes an object becomes as thin as a sandwich bag, sometimes it stays very sturdy — properties that can be used both aesthetically and functionally.
Innovative applications of Aera Fabrica
The technique developed by Fillip Studios has so far been used for artistic purposes. In the research group Programmable Inflatables, a subproject of Pi Lab, Fillip Studios investigates how the technique can be made applicable for industrial applications and innovations in packaging, healthcare and architecture.