Oxman’s work, which has been exhibited at museums across the world, represents some of the most stunning and strange manifestations of these technologies. But her work isn’t meant to celebrate form over function, rather Oxman’s creations are a call to action that ask the question, what will the future of product design and engineering look like as we move from the assembly age to the biodigital age?
Design by Algorithm, Design by Life
Oxman’s lab, the Mediated Matter group at MIT’s Media Lab, is aimed at taking the world of design from a place where products aren’t assembled from smaller components, but rather grown, much in the same way that nature produces complex “products.”
Oxman believes that the Industrial Revolution’s assembly line model has become outmoded. The pollution it produces from unrecyclable materials, energy waste and more isn’t sustainable, so a new mode for manufacturing and design is required.
Central to Oxman’s idea is the notion that manufacturing should use solutions already developed in nature, like the production of melanin to protect from UV radiation, to improve production design.
But melanin is a complex chemical, created by an even more complex set of biological reactions, and manufacturing melanin today is an expensive task ($315/g, according to Oxman) not suited for modern modes of production.
So the solution to this problem is to build biological systems into materials by means of genetic engineering. Oxman calls this process “parametric chemistry,” and it’s one of the most intriguing aspects of her work.
Essentially, parametric chemistry is a method of carefully placing select chemistry within a product’s material where its chemical potential can be leveraged to affect the way a material behaves. In the case of a melanin-impregnated material, melanin would be grafted to a material in select locations so that when the material is acted on by UV radiation, the material could respond by producing a protective pigment that resists the damage of UV rays.
But how will these new biologically driven material designs be produced? Contemporary manufacturing methods can’t produce the type of radical design that Oxman envisions. A new method of manufacturing will have to be developed. And that brings us to…
Additive Manufacturing, a Crucial Element of Oxman’s Idea
For years, Oxman has been working closely with 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys to create methods for building biologically active materials via additive manufacturing. Amazingly, her work with additive manufacturing has been met with some great success.
Continue here to read the full article on engineers.rule || March 20, 2018 |||