Since I last caught up with Autodesk artist in residence Pamela Pascual, a lot has changed. She has 3D printed several prototypes for her bio-inspired glasses and identified flawed aspects of each iteration of her design. She has learned this is in no way a linear process, as evidenced by the assortment of beautiful and frazzled-looking parts she brought to our interview.
Pascual’s original design called for Wayfarer-style frames connected to the temples (the parts that sit on your ears) by two magnets. But the magnets turned out to be too weak to create a firm connection.
Pascual decided to switch to using what’s known as a “living hinge.” Autodesk’s 3D printers can print in two different materials during the same print job, so she can print the temples and frames from a stiff plastic, but use a rubbery material where the hinge would be.
She had hoped to print the temples as delicate, hollow tubes, but found they weren’t strong enough either. So she returned to the stronger, zig-zagging pattern of earlier prototypes.
The day before she made her final print, Pascual’s laptop and hard drive were stolen out of her friend’s car. She lost a week’s worth of design work. While it shook her, she rallied, and got back to work.
“It’s very circuitous, creativity,” Pascual said. “I’m starting to learn, ‘Oh I have this idea, it’ll be super fast, I’ll have it in two weeks.’ I’m learning it’s not that way. You should just keep exploring and have fun at the same time. Have fun and make cool things.”
After she makes her final print at Autodesk, Pascual thinks she might send it to Shapeways to be printed in metal. Further out, she has some ideas about what it means to print a bio-inspired object.
When you work with a 3D printer, you quickly end up with a pile of plastic objects. Some are mess-ups, some are just useless. That’s not very eco-friendly.
Pascual looks forward to building processes where we can actually use nature, with zero waste in the process. Maybe you could print in calcium and then let organisms build upon it to create a shape, like how a coral reef is built.
“(My project is) mimicking it, but it’s not using biology as a process,” Pascual said.