3D Printed Tile Aggregation

Picture of 3D Printed Tile Aggregation
These step-by-step instructions could be used to either create an interesting aggregation of units at the sculptural level or could be applied at the architectural level to become a façade system for a building. Either way, the end result is beautiful.

Knowledge of the following software is required: Rhinoceros and Grasshopper.
Knowledge on how to create a watertight model in Rhino for 3d printing is also imperative.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1:

Picture of
1. Design a complex 3-dimensional tile that could be arrayed in the x and y direction. The finished tile should be a closed polysurface with smooth, continuous surfaces. Artists and designers that could provide some inspiration include MC Esher, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Bathsheba Grossman, Marta Pan, Alexandre Noll, Merete Rasmussen, Nani Prina, and Pierre Paulin. This tile will be your “open” tile. Shown above is my open tile.

Step 2:

Picture of
2. Design a separate closed version of this tile. This variation should have fewer voids so that it could be perceived as a more solid unit. Shown above is my closed tile.

Step 3:

3. Back up a copy of both these tiles just in case something goes wrong in the next steps.

Step 4:

Picture of
4. For both tiles, explode all the surfaces and delete the surfaces that are the edge condition of an array (the edge surfaces giving each unit thickness). What you should be left with is a top and bottom continuous surface.

Step 5:

Picture of
5 brep closed.JPG
5 brep open.JPG
5. Use Grasshopper to create a non-rectangular grid to panel your tiles. The grid can be a parallelogram, triangular, or hexagonal. The definition shown above uses the parallelogram for a grid. Conceptually, this definition represents a sun system that chooses the placement of the tiles based on the angle and location of the “sun.” The last two images compare the location of the closed units versus the open units.

Step 6:

6. Play around with the sliders in Grasshopper to create a version of the design that you like.

Step 7:

Picture of
7. Bake the very last two morph commands in Grasshopper. Shown above is the product in Rhino.
randofo1 year ago
That's an interesting technique. I like what you've done there.
debrahak (author)  randofo1 year ago
thank you so much!

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?


PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!