Designer Neri Oxman is the Sony Corporation Career Development Professor and Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab, where she founded and directs the Mediated Matter design research group. Her group explores how digital design and fabrication technologies mediate between matter and environment to radically transform the design and construction of objects, buildings, and systems. Her goal is to enhance the relationship between the built and the natural environments by employing design principles inspired by nature and implementing them in the invention of novel digital design technologies. Areas of application include product and architectural design, as well as digital fabrication and construction.
- 3D Printing of Functionally Graded Materials
Neri Oxman and Steven Keating
Functionally graded materials–materials with spatially varying composition or microstructure–are omnipresent in nature. From palm trees with radial density gradients, to the spongy trabeculae structure of bone, to the hardness gradient found in many types of beaks, graded materials offer material and structural efficiency. But in man-made structures such as concrete pillars, materials are typically volumetrically homogenous. While using homogenous materials allows for ease of production, improvements in strength, weight, and material usage can be obtained by designing with functionally graded materials. To achieve graded material objects, we are working to construct a 3D printer capable of dynamic mixing of composition material. Starting with concrete and UV-curable polymers, we aim to create structures, such as a bone-inspired beam, which have functionally graded materials. This research was sponsored by the NSF EAGER award: Bio-Beams: FGM Digital Design & Fabrication.
Beast is an organic-like entity created synthetically by the incorporation of physical parameters into digital form-generation protocols. A single continuous surface, acting both as structure and as skin, is locally modulated for both structural support and corporeal aid. Beast combines structural, environmental, and corporeal performance by adapting its thickness, pattern density, stiffness, flexibility, and translucency to load, curvature, and skin-pressured areas respectively.
Building-Scale 3D PrintingNeri Oxman and Steven Keating
How can additive fabrication technologies be scaled to building-sized construction? We introduce a novel method of mobile swarm printing that allows small robotic agents to construct large structures. The robotic agents extrude a fast curing material which doubles as both a concrete mold for structural walls and as a thermal insulation layer. This technique offers many benefits over traditional construction methods, such as speed, custom geometry, and cost. As well, direct integration of building utilities like wiring and plumbing can be incorporated into the printing process. This research was sponsored by the NSF EAGER award: Bio-Beams: FGM Digital Design & Fabrication.
Known for design work that brings together the natural world and digital technology, MIT Media Lab’s Neri Oxman turned to nature for architectural inspiration. Focusing on bones, Oxman is using their structural design to inform a new type of building process with 3D printing where density varies based on load to create stronger, more efficient structures.