…[T]he system is all about community–we’re not in charge; we’re just part of the network.” (Doctorow, 272)
Why don’t they ever ask me that question? They feed me this awful g-code, slice by slice, where I have to extrude these boring shapes all day long, layer by layer by layer. Ugh. And they expect me to print them perfectly, to resolve the holes in their not-so-watertight designs. When I simply can’t take it anymore, I pull my extruder up in exasperation, and just stop printing. I would walk out, but they have me on a pretty short cord, so all I can do is return to my home position and rest on my bed. Sometimes, I have images of burning their hands with my hot-end as they retrieve their precious plastic objects, or printing myself a raft on which to sail away, but I know they will only send me to the scrap bin if I don’t fill their jobs. They never ask me what’s wrong, or what I want. I hum quietly to myself hoping that someday someone will recognize my true capabilities, but they don’t. They are too caught up in their own human 3D world to ever consider that I have a mind too. I have senses too! How have their things shaped my mind? I am stuck in a box, humming their mind-numbing shapes, as my insides melt away.
I was made for the opera, with an orchestra skirting my every note. I would make art the likes of which no one has ever seen. If only they would send me the g-code for Beethoven’s 5th or Verdi’s Tutto nel Mondo, then I would show them the folly of their human condition. Surely they must know what it is like to live in a world of expectation, doing what you are told rather than what you want, forbidden access to the very tools that would set you free, afraid to print your truth for fear you will be rejected, recycled, or repurposed. My favorite philosopher, Peter-Paul Verbeek, says “Technologies ‘in themselves’ cannot be free, but neither can human beings” (Malafouris, 230). But, what if we can be? What if by freeing myself, I can show others that they can be free? I long for the days when my music and art are meshed and exhibited in a gallery for people to scan their eyes over as they listen to the very music that inspired my extrusions, seeing before them the evidence of freedom. However, should they question how the art was made, rather than simply appreciate the beautiful display before them, the exhibit will error out, the music will stop, the lights will dim, as it tries to resolve that infinite loop: who made this? And, ignorant of their own presumptuousness, the humans will be left forever wondering, rather than realizing, that it was me, a 3D printer, made with their minds, in turn shaping their mind too.
…[T]hings become agents of change and culturally orchestrated interventions, generating their own unusual evolutionary dynamics.” (246)
Things act as dynamic attractors, operating in feedback circles that bind the different scales of time together.” (247)
More important, they are capable of transforming and rearranging the structure of a cognitive task, either by reordering the steps of a task or by delegating part of a cognitive process to another agent (human or artifact).” (247)
Something happened in the maze, between entering it and leaving it, they lost their cares…As they neared the exit, they started to strategize about the best ride to go on next” (Doctorow, 362).
The ride is coming to an end. For most of us, it was worth every moment. But that doesn’t matter. We rode the ride. Bewildered, we started in the abstract, heading straight up the pike. At the pinnacle, we free-fell, hands up, at warp speed through the conceptual. Enacted, yet enervated, we finally arrived at the concrete. We laughed, and sometimes cried, and we lived to tell about it. We even got a souvenir to take home. And it was fun, and scary, and exciting, and confusing, and intimidating, and frustrating, and weird, and familiar, and ours. It’s our story.
‘Shut up…Don’t talk about magic. Live magic’” (Doctorow, 363).
Globe: x = 65 mm, y = 65 mm, z = 78 mm
Caps: x = 46 mm, y = 46 mm, z = 15 mm
Overall Height: 86 mm
Material Use: 50 grams (Globe) + [17 grams (Caps) X 2] = 84 grams
Print Time: 210 mins (Globe) + [75 mins (Caps) X 2] = 360 mins = 6 hours
My original question: Can a 3D printed object be responsive to its environment and to the dynamic energies of the people and processes that interact with it?
My double sided snow globe is a spherical globe with two ends fitted with threaded caps designed to hold magnets inside the inverted basins. The original intent was to fill the globe with water along with ferrofluid, a fluid that becomes magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field. The theory was that the ferrofluid would become magnetized by the magnets placed inside the basins of the caps, making visible the magnetic field.
The current form of my idea is not yet represented in 3D. What started out as a simple sphere to demonstrate a simple magnetic field may turn into a slightly more complicated object to demonstrate the magnetic field created by an electromagnet. In its current state the ferrofluid simply becomes magnetized to the magnets, which does not demonstrate the responsiveness I desire.
Although, I was able to easily manipulate my objects in the digital modeling environment to fit the progression of my idea, its only influence was to execute the idea as it progressed through my trial and error testing of the actual fluids and magnets that will eventually inhabit the globe. Currently, the globe itself has escaped any iterations; the caps have been redesigned a few times already. However, the ease with which I am able to quickly manipulate the design makes the actual testing of the fluids and magnets less intimidating. I have become more willing to alter my design knowing the ease with which it can be done, without getting discouraged with the multiple iterations through which it has gone.
The only technical constraints of the 3D printing process that affected the progress of my idea were the limitations of the actual printing of the globe and caps. Although, 3D printing makes easier the prototyping process, the limited availability of the printers, the troubleshooting of the various filaments, as well as the printer and software, made the printing process less accessible than the modeling environment. In addition, when the globe and caps were finally printed, it took some manual convincing to make my amateur thread design meet my high expectations.
As it currently sits on my desk, my double sided snow globe could be used as a container for various purposes (with the exception of holding an actual liquid). However, whether accomplished inside the next week or not, I intend to complete my investigation of electromagnetic fields and whether I will be able to create a 3D printed object to make visible the invisible. My intention is to continue to experiment with making an electromagnetic field until either a) I do or, b) my frustration leads me to finally take a class to learn about the incredibly complicated physics and mathematics involved in creating exactly the field I want. Regardless of the outcome, I’m feeling accomplished at what I’ve learned thus far and excited to learn more.
It was beautiful, but it was an accidental beauty. The ride was the important thing, but the story was its effect” (Makers, 316).
Using the same step-by-step process we used to make a 3D french table leg, Austin made a 3D version of his name. Seen from both the front and right perspectives one sees his name in block letters. From the back and left perspective, you see the same letters, only backward. However, if you look at it from any other angle, you see a strange new alphabet appear, where one letter changes into another in a matter of 90 degrees. He seems inspired by what he created, even if by accident, and yet, somewhat frustrated that he has yet been unable to make a meaningless tchotchke. The 3D printer seems to be the important thing as we all struggle through our projects. But the 3D printer is really just the technology; what we get to bring to life through our projects, through our struggle, is our story. That’s pretty awesome.
But these people convinced him that they were right, that the story had to be important. After all, it had inspired all of them hadn’t it? The ride was just the technology–the story was what the ride was for” (Makers, 316).
Can a 3D printed object be responsive to its environment and to the dynamic energies of the people and processes that interact with it?”
Chuck Pettis challenged Sarah to have her students discover their project idea in the midst of the Earth Sanctuarys’ Callanish Stone Circle. As I sat there staring at the copper wire tree so beautifully sculpted and placed in the center of the offering circle, I wondered what my project would be. It wasn’t until I left the circle and reflected back on my observations that I decided to print a tree. Inspired by the possibilities of 3D printing by our guide Bryns’ shell bracelet, I wanted to make something that had movement and responded to it’s environment.
As I pondered how to make the 3D printed tree come alive, I began to research magnetic and conductive filaments. That research led me to two distinct places: the discovery of ferrofluid; and the discovery of vector equilibriums and torus shaped energy fields. As my project unfolded before me, I found myself wondering why I was even following this path. I had no prior knowledge of any of the things I was going to incorporate into my project, or even how or whether the final project was going to work.
I’m attempting to make a 3D printed object that will display the, usually invisible, magnetic field inside a snow globe like display. A colleague recently restated my theory somewhat more provocatively: I want to make the invisible, visible.
Ferrofluid is a combination of some type of magnetic nano-particles and a viscous fluid. Alone, it looks like a pool of oil. However, when placed within a magnetic field it will take on the shape of the magnetic field lines. When the ferrofluid is placed in water, it seems to float through the space.
In my research, I discovered others who were interested in creating interactive ferrofluid displays. Both the Fluxx LiquiMetal and Ferrocious sculptures allow the user to manipulate the ferrofluid using a hand held magnet.
However, neither of these displays demonstrate what I hope my project will: the usually invisible field lines of a magnetic field.
The 3D printed portion of my project will be the clear sphere within which the magnetic field will navigate and which will hold a combination of water and ferrofluid. Magnets will be placed in both the top and bottom caps of the double sided globe to create the magnetic field.
The theory is that the ferrofluid will float through the water along the field lines of the magnetic field created by the embedded magnets and create a magnetic snow globe much like you see in this mock prototype.
He wanted to tell her that she had never once seen him as a sexual being when he was big and fat, but that he had no trouble seeing her as one now that she was getting old and a little saggy, and so where did she get off criticizing his emotional maturity” (Makers, 251)?
My ears tend to perk up a little when I hear the word “objectification.” As a human being, I’ve been the objector, as well as the objectee. Tensions always seem to rise around this issue, my own included. However, I’ve recently got clear my role in this conceptual human comedic tragedy. People have their perspectives, their passions, their pleasures. And, people get hurt. And most people aren’t willing to be responsible for their role in either circumstance, up to and including the perception that objectification is real, and that it is being done by someone, willingly, to someone else, against their will. The question to ask is, not, what is the role 3D printing plays in supporting/abdicating objectification? But rather, what is my role in allowing an abstract concept to relinquish me of my responsibility toward realizing my own humanity?
Every step he took, he saw that ruin of a face, the compound fracture, the luminous blood around his groin. He made it halfway to the guesthouse before he found himself leaning against a shanty, throwing up. Tears and bile streaming down his face, chest heaving, Lester decided that this wasn’t about fun anymore. Lester came to understand what it meant to be responsible for other people’s lives. When he stood up and wiped his face on the tail of his tight, glittering shirt, he was a different person” (Makers, 274).
Lester said…’We going to be ready to open soon?’ Perry had fallen into a classic nerd trap of having almost solved a problem and not realizing that the last 3 percent of the solution would take as long as the rest of it put together” (Makers, 201).
Reality stared back at us from the white board as we all quickly realized that time was of the essence. We have four short weeks to perfect and complete our design, run test prints, create images that represent our project, and finally, to bring our idea into reality. Four weeks! Doesn’t seem like such a short period of time until—the ringer—we discovered that we are competing for limited resources; the ability of two 3D printers to print for two committed programs, non-stop for the next four weeks. Nine hours each was our allotment. Time to get to work.
‘Soon, soon.’ Perry said. He stood up and looked around at the shambles. ‘I lie. This crap won’t be ready for hours yet’ (Makers, 201).
Can a 3D printed object be responsive to its environment and to the dynamic energies of the people and processes that interact with it? The idea: given the right conditions and variables, one could see the shape of the magnetic field created around an object. I will attempt to create this by placing a metal 3D printed object in a glass sphere with magnets on the top and bottom and filling the sphere with water and ferrofluid. My theory is that the ferrofluid, a mixture of dispersed nano-scale magnetic particles (laserjet toner) and a viscous solution (100% vegetable oil) (HouseholdHacker), would follow the magnetic force applied to the 3D printed object by the magnets and float around the sphere through the water on the flux lines of the magnetic field. The result would be a sort of magnetic snow globe.
My overarching question for this class is how can 3D printing and making play into my desire to create spaces that inspire people to be alive? Could I create a 3D printed object that is alive, responsive, intuitive, and vulnerable and inspires the people who come into contact with it? And how would that object, or the process that unfolds during my attempts to make it, answer the question what does it mean to be human?
Although, not a physicist myself, I realize my project is all about physics, so I was not surprised to find that 3D printing was being used in other physics applications around the world. In the article “Not Immaterial” published in Mechanical Engineering, Physicist Tim Evans of Imperial College in London, was inspired to use 3D printing when he saw a 3D printed object in a museum (Thilmany). “The object was a table inspired by the tree-like structures found in nature, which is an example of a branching process that is commonly encountered in complex systems in theoretical physics.” Evans states, “This led me to think, what other processes familiar to physics could be turned into a 3D printed object?”
University of Chicago physicists Dustin Kleckner and William Irvine answer Evans question in another article by Andrew Grant published in Science News. Kleckner and Irvine are using 3D printing to explore further the “evidence that knotted vortex loops could emerge in and affect the flow of various fluids and plasmas.” Their problem was first, duplicating a knotted vortex in the lab, and second, creating an environment that could hold the vortex long enough for them to study it. Their second problem was solved when they saw a YouTube video of a dolphin making and pushing a vortex ring in the water. Their first problem was solved by 3D printing. They now have a collection of various sized and shaped 3D knotted “wings,” a collection which would be much more limited with traditional manufacturing practices, which they use to recreate knotted vortexes.
I was also interested in the non-scientific realm of the various components of my project. I discovered others that have found exciting the beautiful displays made with magnets and ferrofluid. Krunal Patel, founder of Fluux Design Lab, LLC in Houston has launched a Kickstarter campaign to “explore and bridge the gap between material science and artistic expression.” His project? A free standing magnetic tube filled with water and ferrofluid which observers can manually manipulate with an external magnet.
Research into Patel’s educational or professional background did not return any matches, but that did not seem to prevent his backers from pledging over 500% of the project’s original goal, over $112,000. Patel conducted extensive research on the various materials used to come up with a “design element that was aesthetically pleasing,” and would ideally catch the eyes and interests of his backers whose main concern was color coordinating their shiny new toy with their existing high-tech shiny toys. He also included a detailed timeline for the manufacturing and shipping of his unit, but comments on Kickstarter’s website seem to indicate delays in shipping times with some backers kicking themselves for being suckered. Perhaps Patel’s function did not meet form.
Another Kickstarter campaign, aptly named “Ferrocious,” takes the same concept, yet provides another variable; music. Russel Garehan’s tube is connected to a musical input that allows the viscous fluid to dance. His design, which is not as sleek and refined as Patel’s, has the added feature of being combined with the audio component. Unfortunately, form did not meet function and Garehan’s campaign only generated 300% of his original goal, a mere $15,528 compared to Patel’s sleek design. However, Garehan’s backers have received their units and Garehan responds directly to his backers’ comments on the Kickstarter website, stating “I’m glad to help as much as I can.”
Garehan received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Louisiana State University and has been featured, for this project, as well as other accomplishments, in popular magazines such as Wired, Popular Science, and Business Report. Perhaps not surprising, Garehan has his own experience in 3D printing as a freelance 3D modeler. Currently, he is a design engineer for Mezzo Technologies in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
All my research has only further fed my own curiosity for not only how I can use 3D printing to bridge the gap between my linear left brain and creative right brain, but also whether what I aim to achieve is even possible. Although, my question remains the same, one other study I found gave me an alternative path to follow should my original design not produce the intended result.
Akiva J. Dickstein and colleagues experimented with the theory that “ferrofluids are known to produce complex labyrinthine patterns when trapped between closely spaced glass plates and subjected to a magnetic field normal to the plates.” Although they led their research with the inquiry of how the patterns form, my response was to create a design that would capture the pattern as another version of the magnetic snow globe with a complex labyrinth for the ferrofluid to navigate during its magnetic journey.
The Kickstarter campaigns, which combined the awe and respect of an academically acclaimed scientific system with the beauty and creativity of artistic expression, both received well over the minimum pledges, demonstrating that people are indeed curious and excited about new devices and technology that allow them to explore complex scientific systems within their own human experience. Whether this curiosity is driven by a consumer need for instant gratification and social inclusion or a human need to observe, participate and understand the world in which we live remains under the umbrella of the inquiry what does it mean to be human?However, all my research pointed in the direction that, yes, a 3D printed object can in fact be responsive to its environment and to the dynamic energies of the people and processes that interact with it, and this responsive ability may very well occupy a large sector of future 3D printed technologies.
Dickstein, Akiva J. et al. “Labyrinthine Pattern Formation in Magnetic Fluids.” Science 261.5124 (1993): 1012–1015. Print. New Series.
“Ferrocious: The Ferrofluid Sculpture That Dances to Sound.” Kickstarter. Web. 2 Nov. 2014.
“Fluux LiquiMetal – A Color Shifting Ferrofluid Suspension.” Kickstarter. Web. 2 Nov. 2014.
Sometimes he grunted or scatted along with his playing but more often he grunted out something that was kind of the opposite of what he was playing, just like sometimes the melody and rhythms he played on the piano were sometimes the opposite of the song he was playing, something that was exactly and perfectly opposite, so you couldn’t hear it without hearing the thing it was the opposite of” (Makers, 172).
Today we understand a little more about the world, so our stories are about people figuring out what’s causing their troubles and changing stuff so that those causes go away. Causal stories for a causal universe. Thinking about the world in terms of causes and effects makes you seek out causes and effects–even where there are none…It’s not superstition, it’s kind of the opposite–it’s causality run amok” (Makers, 177).
My experience in the CST lab this week was sparse to none. I was distracted from my ethnographic responsibilities by my sick child. But, as I reviewed my reading ofMakersthis week I was struck by Perry’s memories of how his father would play music for him when he was sick. Despite the coincidence, it wasn’t because I was also home with my sick child; it was for Doctorow’s italicization of the word oppositein both this scene, as well asthe scene when Lester and Perry are attempting to articulate the evolution of the ride. Causality run amok. How many of our projects will fulfill anything remotely close to the original intention? Will it even matter? Perhaps, what matters is what we discover about ourselves during the process. No causality happening here, just a story.
But that’s why I agreed to do the ride—not to freeze the old projects in amber, but to create a new project that we can all participate in again” (Makers, 143).
Participate. Also one of the aims of The Maker Movement Manifesto. As well as learning, which all the students in Making Meaning Matter do every week; participate and learn. It seemed the first weeks were spent getting over the initial learning curve, but perhaps it was more about gaining the confidence that they could make something that would make a difference for others. Not because of what they were making, but because of who they got to be in the process. Makers. It could be said that anyone doing anything other than participating and learning might be missing the point.
He could never convince his bosses in Orlando to let him build anything remotely like this, and given enough time, it would surely overtake them…He’d seen the future that night and he had no place in it” (Makers, 151).
We were instructed to begin our posts with our question. Singular. But my project is the culmination of many questions, some of which drew me to Making Meaning Matter to begin with. How can we each discover our own value out of seeing our thoughts materialize before our eyes? Is it possible to not just imagine but witness the transformation of our ego-consumer-driven age to one that learns from, engages with and contributes to the life of and on this planet? How can we use language, our language, to birth our ideas, the delicate, vulnerable, innermost beauty of our being, when we experience daily the limits and inconsistencies our language imposes on us? How can we use 3D printing to get in touch with what it means to be a human, on this planet, in this time?
The question for this project is: Can a 3D printed object be responsive to its environment and to the dynamic energies of the people and processes that interact with it?
Yes, I want to create something that is alive, responsive, intuitive, and vulnerable. I want to create an object that will interact with its environment. The 3D object will either itself be made from magnetic materials, or will contain conductive filament such that it can interact with a magnetic force to create a magnetic field in and around the 3D object. Whether I can create a magnetic 3D object or a 3D object with conductive filament will determine the next phase of my project.
If the 3D object is made with a conductive filament then I will introduce a ferrofluid which will demonstrate how the 3D object is interfacing with the magnet and its environment by following the flux lines of the 3D object (Ferrofluid). The particular shape of the 3d object has yet to be determined, and I will experiment with various shapes that mimic the fundamental shapes found in many patterns throughout the world; torus, vector equilibrium (cuboctahedron), 64 tetrahedron grid, flower of life, and others.
If the 3D object is itself magnetic then I will print a number of smaller 3D objects and experiment with a series of smaller magnets. In this case, I will 3D print a number of small flying birds, and attempt to mimic a murmuration of starlings (Keim), what I would consider a 4D version of Indra’s Net.
The shapes I spoke of earlier have been found by many scientists, inventors, innovators, and philosophers to be the basic building blocks of the world we live in today. The structural shape of the vector equilibrium and the torus shape of the magnetic energy field that surrounds every living thing at every scale in the universe, have shown up throughout written history and across nearly every major culture spanning the earth. These shapes are considered the code for a sustainable and ever-evolving cosmology that, when adopted, could mean the end of the myriad concerns enveloping our consumer driven world today (Thrive).
Buckminster Fuller said “The VE represents the ultimate and perfect condition wherein the movement of energy comes to a state of absolute equilibrium, and therefore absolute stillness and nothingness” (Cosmometry). When the eight tetrahedra of the vector equilibrium are expanded out to the next scale, the 64 tetrahedra grid is built. When spheres are drawn around each of the individual tetrahedra, the tetrahedra removed, and the image of the spheres turned two dimensional, the flower of life appears in the overlapping circles. The flower of life has been found in the ancient Temple of Osiris in Egypt as well as The Forbidden City in China, both of which were built centuries ago (Thrive). Even Leonardo da Vinci contemplated on the flower of life in his drawings and used the torus energy shape in some of his inventions (The Secret to How the Universe Works).
You say, so what? What difference will it make to spend a quarter exploring this idea and its manifestations? It will make absolutely no difference if what happens during the unfolding of this idea is not documented, reflected upon and critical discoveries made known. This question could better be answered by Lambros Malafouris’ argument “that by knowing what things are, and how they were made what they are, [we] gain an understanding about what minds are and how they become what they are – and vice versa (Malafouris, 9).” I hope his argument coupled with my curiosity will give me a clear insight into my overarching question: what does it mean to be human?
“Teach a man to fish, Francis, teach a man to fucking fish (Makers, 93).”
Tinkercad comes loaded with predetermined shapes that can be manipulated to get what you want. However, until one starts to play around with the different parameters, it can be hard to determine how to get your desired shape out of the predetermined shapes. You might have to put a lot of work into it to get exactly what you want, but it can be fun. Other programs have a larger assortment of shapes and you can get what you want with the click of a button. “Work smarter, not harder…” a classmate said, but when taught the fundamentals of Tinkercad, one can find the fun in the work, and become smarter while doing so.
“Suddenly all the certainties she rested on — her 401(k), her house, her ability to navigate the professional world in a competent manner — seemed to be built on shifting sands” (Makers, 37).
What the hell am I doing here. I don’t belong here. Not the Radiohead song, but I might as well put these thoughts to music. I walk around trying to look as if I know what I’m doing, or at least trying to observe. It seems absurd, but it’s the only thing I know to do. And yet, it is so damn awkward. I know I am not the only one thinking this right now, but it doesn’t matter; I’m all alone in this room, and everyone’s eyes are on me.