Bridging Synthetic and Organic Materiality: Gradient Transitions in Material Connections

Bridging Synthetic and Organic Materiality: Gradient Transitions in Material Connections

Hironori Yoshida (Carnegie Mellon University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0942-6.ch005
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Abstract

The recent movement from mass production to mass customization enabled by digital fabrication has opened the door for new typologies in architecture and design. The author brought the idea of mass customization to material connection, which normally appears as orthogonal seams that are predominant in man-made objects. This chapter introduces gradient material transitions that seamlessly bridge synthetic and organic matter. Using digital image processing of organic forms, the fabrication process generates 3D tooling paths, culminating in the concept of ‘bio customization’ rather than mass customization, a new prospect of digital fabrication.
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Material Connections

Before humans, nature discovered jointing techniques long ago. Organisms developed biological forms and jointing techniques such as suture joint on skulls and the connection of a tooth to the jawbone. Joining techniques such as mechanical fasteners are simplified techniques to hold man-made structures together. In the design process, designers and engineers subdivide a required function into parts and components ultimately built with mono-materials. They specify materials to fulfill assigned requirements taking advantage of material properties; for example a window component with a transparent sheet glass and a well insulated frame. As long as man-made structures are fabricated as complex assemblies of parts and components, whether mass-produced or digitally mass customized or one-off hand crafted, connections between components are inevitable. “From a philosophical and practical stance we can see that where materials or building components meet each other - at the points, at the lines or at the planes or surfaces – there is nothing” (Emmitt et al., 2004). Thus, assembled objects typically have pronounced seams between parts and components. Designers and architects do not have many choices to deal with these seams: to accentuate the contrast between components by using parting lines as graphical elements, disguise them from the eye using complex tooling, surface finishing or processing methods. The technological limitation of standardized parts and components is represented by their seams and appears as orthogonal seams that are predominant in man-made objects.

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