SELF-SHAPING TEXTILES / PhD defense and publication

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3D print, 3D printing on textiles, 4D print, architectural design, CAD CAM, design, digital design, digital fabrication, doctoral research, exhibition, experimental prototyping, lectures, Material studies, PhD research, rapid prototyping, research, research by design, textile design, textile research, textiles, TU Berlin, Upscaling, upscaling textiles, Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin, writing

On the 14th of December 2021 I defended my doctoral research entitled SELF-SHAPING TEXTILES: Form-Finding of Tensile Surface Structures through 3D Printing on Pre-stressed Fabric at the TU Berlin.
I would like to thank my supervisors and all the members of the doctoral examination board: Prof. Dr. Ignacio Borrego, Prof. Jürgen Weidinger, Prof. Christiane Sauer, Prof. Ralf Pasel and everyone who supported me throughout this long process.


SELF-SHAPING TEXTILES: Form-Finding of Tensile Surface Structures through 3D Printing on Pre-stressed Fabric


Widespread computer-aided design and manufacturing technologies enhanced the possibilities to design and produce forms of increasing complexity. One of the byproducts of these technological advancements in the architectural practice is the pervading trend where materials are forced into predefined geometries, resulting in supremacy of form over matter.
This thesis investigates material-based form-finding methods as alternatives to the form-driven approach. It draws inspiration from the intrinsically efficient self-shaping processes in nature where forms result from complex interactions between material and the surrounding environment, hence focuses on forms created to a large extent by surface tension. In the man-made environment, such tension-active realizations are primarily represented by textile structures.

Textiles always played an important role in the way humans interacted with their environment, creating a bridge between natural and man-made constructions. Due to their inherent properties such as softness, flexibility and high tensile strength, textiles have the potential to create novel solutions for efficient and adaptable structures. Analogous to the biological systems, the hierarchical structures of textiles allow them to evolve and adapt across different scales. These possibilities are further enriched by the growing influence of digitized construction, as well as developments of new materials with enhanced characteristics. Additive manufacturing has been one of the fastest evolving technologies in the last few decades, continuously expanding the possibilities of fabricating physical objects. This customized digital production technology together with the latest advancements in material science enable local differentiation of material properties and facilitate the fusion with other practices such as textile manufacturing.

This research proposes the use of 3D printing on pre-stretched textiles as an alternative material-based form-finding technique. This method relies on 3D printing a less elastic material on top of an elastic, pre-stressed fabric. Upon the release of tension, the fabric self-shapes into balanced, three-dimensional structures. Forms created this way are pure representations of their material properties, elastic energy stored in these materials and forces acting on them.
Large part of the investigation focuses on experimental prototyping, classifying possible shapes that emerge from this process, as well as identifying their potential and limitations. It advocates a bottom-up design methodology in place of reverse engineering of target shapes, which has notable implications on conceivable forms. The analysis concentrates on two different design strategies: 3D printing open and closed shapes.

Both design methods are explored by design in three consequent case studies, looking at different aspects of textile composite structures such as scalability, adaptability and local differentiation- heterogeneity. The first case study examines the possibilities of continuous, out-of-the-roll manufacturing as a method to upscale the production process. The second study looks at different strategies to trigger the change of shape. Finally, the third exploration focuses on the possibility to program the behavior of knitted fabrics by locally alternating the structure of the knit. Contrary to most architectural textiles, being framed and bereft of their intrinsic characteristics such as softness and malleability, this approach keeps the fabric in movement and allows us to envision novel textile tectonics of seamless, heterogeneous and adaptable spaces.

Below you can find a couple of impressions from the presentation and exhibition.

Pic. PhD defense, TU Berlin

Pic. Presentation of the doctoral thesis

Pic. PhD exhibition, TU Berlin

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