The extensive range of Rapid Manufactured lighting and interior products which forms part of the Within4Walls Collection is unrivalled - in the UK, Europe and very possibly in the world. In our collection you will find the most mind-blowing digitally produced objects you have ever seen.
Directly opposing traditional craftsmanship, where objects are handmade using natural materials such as wood, glass or china, Digital Manufacturing is ultimately software-based and its creations are electronically produced by rendering virtual electronic files into solid, seamless objects. This allows for highly mathematical structures which, unlike handmade work, are absolutely and perfectly pure.
These days, digital technologies have found widespread use in interior and product design and are further developing at a staggering pace. The high production costs are mainly determined by the volume of deposited layers of polyamide/epoxy and the time it takes the machine to build the model.
You'll never forget the first time you see a light object created using rapid manufacturing.
We first learned about the technology in 2003 when we met the young Dutch designers Gabriel & Evenhuis and again in 2004 when we came face to face with the first spectacular light designs presented by MGX. It's been a case of total fascination ever since and we are very proud to present to you an extensive choice of work by renowned international designers, designed for and expertly produced by MGX by Materialise and Freedom of Creation. Willeke Evenhuis nowadays works as an independent designer and has her lights 3-dimensionally printed elsewhere.
Click on the image below to watch the laser sintering process.
RAPID (LAYER) MANUFACTURING or 3-DIMENSIONAL PRINTING
Rapid Prototyping methods were first introduced at the end of the 1980s to enable designers to create tangible 3D objects rather than drawings in order to check the design of a new product. Since then the range of rapid prototyping processes has increased dramatically, as has its application. Today, it is a billion-dollar industry: car manufacturers use the technique to make new designs for bumpers or wing mirrors, and everything from mobile phones to surgical equipment is evaluated in this way.
One of the major developments has been in medicine, where it is causing something of a revolution. Scans can now be transformed into 3d models which are used in orthopaedic surgery, reconstruction and cosmetic surgery. On a simple level, the results have allowed better hip replacements which fit better and don't wear out. In more complex surgery this new approach can reduce operating time and enable much more reliable and precise surgery to be conducted, thus benefiting patients and reducing the cost of treatment.
Rapid Prototyping is nowadays more aptly called Rapid Manufacturing. Other terms used are Digital Additives, Digital Manufacturing, 3D-Printing, Stereolithography, Laser Sintering or Layer Manufacturing.
Rapid Manufacturing is a term used to describe a range of processes which fabricate physical objects directly from CAD files. This revolutionary process of 3-dimensional printing technology has made it possible to translate 3D visual effects into actual 3D material structures, building up solid objects from microscopic layers of metal, plastic or other materials in much the same way as an inkjet printer deposits rows of tiny ink dots on a piece of paper.
For 3D-printing, the design is defined in a 3D-modeling computer program such as Solidworks or 3D Studio Max. The model is consequently divided into slices and sent to a 3D-printing machine which is capable of building the real object by melting together particles of liquid polymer (SLA - Stereolithography) or polyamide powder (SLS - Selective Laser Sintering) with laser light, layer by layer each 0.2 millimeters thin. The process enables design and production to merge seamlessly and it offers almost unlimited freedom of design.
Although it enables to manufacture purely on demand, the technology is still in its infancy and objects are expensive to produce. A Rapid Manufacturing machine costs around £500.000; an hour of use will cost around £40 and it takes at least six hours to create the simplest lampshade - more complex shapes will require considerably longer to produce. After leaving the machine, further time is needed for the object to cure and be dyed if needed. Every object is uniquely made and thus slight size variations are possible within the limits of the printing machine.
The pace of technology is however rapidly increasing.
Today, products are created using 3D tools and artificial intelligence or DNA 'code'. These codes not only dictate the transformation from a virtual to an actual product, but they also direct the object’s ultimate function, both in terms of its structure as well as how it actually looks. Live stress analysis is incorporated within the design process in order to optimise the design and material usage. New aesthetics and typographies are created as part of this new process. Produced by laser sintering, these products consist of a cosmetic skin and intelligent soft and hard structures. Like the biological structure and mechanism of bone, the artificial intelligence software knows where to create sufficient support.
The evolution we can expect in the next two years will likely be no less significant than the progress seen in the last ten years.
This article appeared in The Daily Telegraph on May 13th 2008 -
a casual confirmation of all the fascinating facts you can read here!
WITHIN4WALLS & CO
|The Belgian company MGX by Materialise operates both as a supplier of manufacturing excellence and a design company mastering its own concepts and brand. As the European leader in prototyping, Materialise owns the world’s largest RP&M capacity based in onelocation and works with clients worldwide. The sensational experience of producing extraordinary products under the MGX label started in 2003 by focusing on the development of lighting items. The new aesthetics generated by taking technology as a starting point for creativity gave birth to a range of suprising objects. |
Ever since the start-up of the department in 2003, MGX by Materialise has been looking for innovative ideas to work on, preferably ideas or forms that seemed almost impossible to produce. This search has lead to the company's existing collection of designer products, but it was also the start of some interesting collaborations with designers such as Patrick Jouin and Arik Levy, which resulted in an astonishing collection of furniture and art objects. With these projects and collaborations, MGX by Materialise wishes to promote design but also tries to emphasise the endless possibilities of the technologies and the futuristic - but not far-fetched - ideas behind it all.
.MGX is the file extension of the Materialise software, Magics. This software makes the rapid prototyping and manufacturing techniques accessible to professionals. The highly contemporary CAD file (made by today’s leading design software packages such as Rhino, 3dStudioMax, Maya, Microstation, Cinema4d, Solid Works, etc) can be transformed into an STL-file and then converted by Magics into .MGX in order to render the design project printable.
Within4Walls are Agent for the prestigious MGX brand.
We will be delighted to assist you with all your residential and corporate project enquiries, please contact us.
|The Dutch company FOC (Freedom of Creation) is a pioneering design and research company specialising in design for Rapid Manufacturing. The resulting products are either part of the company's own collection or are commercialised by other design labels. The extensive researchconducted by FOC in design for Rapid Manufacturing has resulted in innovative and successfulcommercial projects and the development of new industrial materials and software products. It has been the foundation for significant R&D projects with a range of industrial partners. FOC also consult other companies concerning the implementation of its designs and logistical strategies into their product lines.|
The manufacturing partner of FOC is the German firm FKM, who have the largest fleet of Laser Sintering machines in Europe.
THE TECHNICAL DETAILS
SLS (SELECTIVE LASER SINTERING)
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) parts are built with successive layers of powder selectively bound by a laser beam. The basic material consists of powder with particle sizes in the order of magnitude of 50 µm. Successive powder layers are spread on top of each other. After deposition, a computer controlled CO2 laser beam scans the surface and selectively binds together the powder particles of the corresponding cross section of the product. During laser exposure, the powder temperature rises above the glass transition point after which adjacent particles flow together. This process is called sintering and is theoretically possible with all powdered thermoplastics.
Objects are built in Polyamide (PA). The powder, being a solid material, has the attractive feature of being self-supporting for the generated product sections. This makes supports (typical for stereolithography) redundant. The polyamide material allows the production of fully functional prototypes with high mechanical and thermal resistance. The use of PA powder with glass filling (PA-GF) has a much higher thermal resistance and is typically used in functional tests with high thermal loads. Polyamide SLS parts have an excellent long-term stability and are resistant against most chemicals. They can be made watertight by impregnation. The PA material is certified as biocompatible and not harmful to health or the environment.
SLS is the ideal solution for:
- Fully functional prototype parts for mechanical and thermal tests. The polyamide material allows the production of strong, durable parts that can be used for extensive functional testing. Sintered products have mechanical properties comparable to those of injection moulded PA12 parts. Typical applications are snap fits but it is also possible to produce working hinges. Polyamide parts with glass filling have a much higher thermal resistance and are perfectly suited for lighting elements and ventilation systems or products that require high thermal loads. Apart from their use as test products, the functional SLS parts often also need to be used at the same time for a visual/aesthetical control or dimensional check.
- Series of small plastic parts. SLS is an interesting and cost-effective alternative to injection moulding (Rapid Tooling). Using machines with a large build area, a series of small pieces can be built in one single laser sintering process. This dramatically decreases the price, as the cost of an SLS part depends on its volume. Or in other words, the cost is defined by the amount of powder it takes to build it and not by an initial investment in an injection moulding tool. Moreover, series of SLS parts are available in a few days. So no need for high start-up investments, no long lead times to produce a mould and injection mould the parts, no difficulties in case the parts are complex.
- Large and complex functional parts. New and bigger machines can build large complex geometries in one piece up to 700 x 380 x 580mm. The number of layers to be built is significantly reduced as large parts can be built horizontally, which considerably shortens the building process. Parts exceeding the maximum dimensions can be built in multiple pieces and put together afterwards. The process of gluing sub-parts and assembling components can be done in the most accurate and secure way using the RapidFit system. RapidFit allows to firmly position the parts on a unique support system with individualized fixtures, supporting the part on well positioned points.
• Standard accuracy: ± 0.25 mm (with a minimum of ± 0.2 mm). Higher accuracy can be achieved after finishing.
• Minimum wall thickness: 1 mm, but working hinges are possible at 0.3 mm.
• Maximum part dimensions: unlimited when the parts may be composed of several sub-parts.
• Surface structure: SLS parts typically have a grainy surface but all kinds of (very) fine finishing are possible. They can be sandblasted, coloured (impregnated), painted, covered, coated etc.
Materials used for SLS:
|PLASTICS||• PA 12 fine||fine polyamide for fully functional components in design quality. High degree of mechanical and thermal stability.|
|• PA 12 fine GF||fine, glass-filled polyamide of high density. For components with particularly smooth surfaces, highest possible degree of dimensional accuracy and excellent mechanical properties. Also for mass finishing and black infiltration. |
|• Alumide||aluminium-filled fine polyamide. For components that have already been subjected to stress during testing and for multi-component, functional component assemblies. Also for mass finishing and black infiltration.|
|• Somos 201 ||an elastomeric plastic with rubber-like properties. For flexible, pliable components, including black infiltration|
|• DirectMetal||bronze-based metallic powder. For the production of metallic components, e.g. functional prototypes with complex geometries and high surface quality or injection-moulded prototypes. |
|• DirectSteel||steel-based metallic powder. For the production of highly durable injection moulds and even for limited-run injection-moulds|
|SAND||• Foundry sand|very fine, specially treated sand. For the direct, tool-less production of moulds and cores with clean surfaces, even those with complex geometries.
Stereolithography is now one of the most widely used rapid prototyping techniques for plastic models.
Starting from an STL file, the part is built slice by slice from bottom to top, in a vessel of liquid polymer that hardens when struck by a laser beam. The required supports for overhangs and cavities are automatically generated in the model under construction. The support and model files are then "cut" into thin horizontal slices and programmed into the stereolithography machine. This machine uses a computer controlled laser to draw the bottom cross section onto the surface of a liquid polymer that hardens where struck by the laser. The part is then lowered to a depth corresponding to the section's thickness and the next cross section is drawn directly on top of the previous one. This is repeated until the part is finished. The supports are removed manually after the product is taken from the machine.
Epoxy materials combine high shape stability with attractive material properties. On top of that, the resins have a high temperature resistance and are not sensitive to humidity. Depending on requirements, the stereolithography part can be finished by sandblasting and possibly spray painting or can be used as a master for casting techniques.
SLA is the ideal solution for:
- 'Show and tell' parts with good surfaces and fine detailing.
- Visual prototypes for checking 3D drawings.
- Prototypes for limited functional testing.
- Masters for copying techniques (R.I.M. & Vacuum Casting).
• Standard accuracy: ± 0.1%.
• Surface structure: Without post-finishing dependent upon the orientation of the layers. Different aspects from high gloss to a rough texture are obtained with post-finishing. Sensitive to UV-light.
• Capacity: Materialise has a range of 10 stereolithography machines with a maximum build area of 2100 x 650 x 600mm.