Chrissy G.
Week 9
// 3D Printed Object //


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When I initially began this project, I chose to render a 3D model of the yurt that I live in for a very simple reason: I wanted to learn how to build it. Yurts are traditionally very simple structures; they’re compact, lightweight, and easily assembled. Designing a yurt in Tinkered was surprisingly a lot like constructing one in real life. They are comprised of khana (the lattice walls), rafters, a roof ring,  a door frame, and a base. These main components are geometric, symmetrical, and straightforward. I wanted the model to be as close to home (so to speak) as possible.



However, some obstacles presented themselves in the process. One thing became clear after my fourth attempt at printing the model: I needed some basic architectural design elements integrated into the construction process. I wasn’t just printing a model to see if it works– I was reproducing something that actually works.  But it wasn’t working. The middle of the “X” in the latticework (where it would be bolted in real-life) was too thin to print. One theory is that because the “X” is a flat shape, curving it around and shaving off the edges (to make a circle) would compromise the structural integrity of lattice. In real-life, the “X” shape creates a tension around the circumference that enhances its stability, but virtually, it does the opposite.

The next move (with the help of John) was taking the too-thin lattice into Blender and simply thickening it up. Seems simple enough, right? I took the new, sturdier model into Tinkercad and discovered I couldn’t manipulate it at all. New shapes wouldn’t group to the knaha, including the rafters and door frame.

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 10.07.02 PM

The lattice ended up becoming too complex of a structure to even download into Makerware. The model (unbeknownst to me) had about 55,000 faces, all of which the 3D printer would have to identify and print.

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 10.08.06 PM


The result was a clashing of technologies. The logic of thousand year-old architecture transcribed into the language of 1′s and 0′s made something simple into something very, very complicated. My attempts at making a realistic model of a yurt subsided. I needed to match the language of the computer to be able to print the yurt, which meant changing (and ultra-simplifying) the design.

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 10.46.19 PM

My original idea to “print space” in order to understand the concept of home has very much been gratified through the complications of this project. No living spaces come without time and maintenance.  These learning curves have given me an aerial perspective on the difficulties of designing custom domestic spaces, whether it be tangible, physical, or virtual labor. Printed space, therefore, can be represented as the gaps between the building and the builder.

I’m still curious if 3D printing can inform the homes of the future. I wonder if we will be able to perfect the nests that match our personal, aesthetic, and economical needs. If technology can customize living spaces, then who is it that customizes the human experience? How much human touch is necessary to make a living space truly livable?