Since its foundation, the Within4Walls Collection has featured an extensive range of 3D-Printed lights, unrivalled in the UK, in Europe and very possibly in the world, which included the most mind-blowing digitally produced objects ever seen. Sadly, many of these stunning first generation digital light objects are now no longer produced, but others are still available today.
Directly opposing traditional craftsmanship, where objects are handmade using natural materials such as wood, glass or china, Digital Manufacturing is ultimately software-based and its creations are electronically produced by rendering virtual electronic files into solid, seamless objects. This allows for highly complex mathematical structures which, unlike handmade work, are absolutely perfect and mathematically pure. These days, digital technologies have found widespread use in all sorts of industries and are further developing at a staggering pace. The production costs are mainly determined by the volume of deposited layers of polyamide/epoxy and the time it takes the printing machine to build the model.
You'll never forget the first time you see a light object created using 3-dimensional printing.
We first learned about the technology in 2003 when we met the young Dutch designers Gabriel & Evenhuis and again in 2004 when we came face to face with the first spectacular light designs presented by MGX. It's been a case of total fascination ever since and we have been very proud to present our beautiful and very exciting collection of work designed by award-winning international designers and produced by some of the world's leaders in digital manufacturing technologies.
RAPID (LAYER) MANUFACTURING or 3-DIMENSIONAL PRINTING
Rapid Prototyping methods were first introduced at the end of the 1980s to enable designers to create tangible 3D objects rather than drawings in order to check the design of a new product. Since then the range of rapid prototyping processes has increased dramatically, as has its application. Today, it is a billion-dollar market - aerospace, architecture, automotive, defense and medical industries, among many others, emply the technology.
One of the major developments has been in medicine, where it has caused something of a revolution. Scans can now be transformed into 3d models which are used in orthopaedic surgery, reconstruction and cosmetic surgery. On a simple level, the results have allowed better hip replacements which fit better and don't wear out. In more complex surgery, this new approach can reduce operating time and enable much more reliable and precise surgery to be conducted, thus benefiting patients and reducing the cost of treatment.
Rapid Prototyping is nowadays more aptly called Rapid Manufacturing. Other terms used are Digital Additives, Digital Manufacturing, 3D-Printing, Stereolithography, Laser Sintering or Layer Manufacturing.
Rapid Manufacturing is a term used to describe a range of processes which fabricate physical objects directly from CAD files. This revolutionary 3-dimensional printing process makes it possible to translate 3D visual effects into actual 3D material structures, building up solid objects from microscopic layers of metal, plastic or other materials in much the same way as an inkjet printer deposits rows of tiny ink dots on a piece of paper. For 3D-printing, the design is defined in a 3D-modeling computer program such as Solidworks or 3D Studio Max. The model is consequently divided into slices and sent to a 3D-printing machine which is capable of building the real object by melting together particles of liquid polymer (SLA - Stereolithography) or polyamide powder (SLS - Selective Laser Sintering) with laser light, layer by layer each 0.2 millimeters thin. The process enables design and production to merge seamlessly and it offers almost unlimited freedom of design.
The pace of technology is rapidly increasing.
Today, numerous products are created using 3D tools and artificial intelligence or DNA 'code'. These codes not only dictate the transformation from a virtual to an actual product, but they also direct the object's ultimate function, both in terms of its structure as well as how it actually looks. Live stress analysis is incorporated within the design process in order to optimise the design and material usage. New aesthetics are created as part of this new process. Produced by laser sintering, these products consist of a cosmetic skin and intelligent soft and hard structures. Like the biological structure and mechanism of bone, the artificial intelligence software knows where to create sufficient support.
THE TECHNICAL DETAILS
SLS (Selective Laser Sintering))
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) parts are built with successive layers of powder selectively bound by a laser beam. The basic material consists of powder with particle sizes in the order of magnitude of 50 µm. Successive powder layers are spread on top of each other. After deposition, a computer controlled CO2 laser beam scans the surface and selectively binds together the powder particles of the corresponding cross section of the product. During laser exposure, the powder temperature rises above the glass transition point after which adjacent particles flow together. This process is called sintering and is theoretically possible with all powdered thermoplastics.
Objects are built in Polyamide (PA). The powder, being a solid material, has the attractive feature of being self-supporting for the generated product sections. This makes supports (typical for stereolithography) redundant. The polyamide material allows the production of fully functional prototypes with high mechanical and thermal resistance. For example, PA powder with glass filling (PA-GF) has a much higher thermal resistance and is typically used in functional tests with high thermal loads. Polyamide SLS parts have an excellent long-term stability and are resistant against most chemicals. They can be made watertight by impregnation. The PA material is certified as biocompatible and not harmful to health or the environment.
Stereolithography is now one of the most widely used rapid prototyping techniques for plastic models.
Starting from an STL file, the part is built slice by slice from bottom to top, in a vessel of liquid polymer that hardens when struck by a laser beam. The required supports for overhangs and cavities are automatically generated in the model under construction. The support and model files are then "cut" into thin horizontal slices and programmed into the stereolithography machine. This machine uses a computer controlled laser to draw the bottom cross section onto the surface of a liquid polymer that hardens where struck by the laser. The part is then lowered to a depth corresponding to the section's thickness and the next cross section is drawn directly on top of the previous one. This is repeated until the part is finished. The supports are removed manually after the product is taken from the machine.
Epoxy materials combine high shape stability with attractive material properties. On top of that, the resins have a high temperature resistance and are not sensitive to humidity. Depending on requirements, the stereolithography part can be finished by sandblasting and possibly spray painting or can be used as a master for casting techniques.
WITHIN4WALLS & CO
Since our foundation we have worked together with several digital manufacturing partners.
The Belgian company MGX by Materialise operates both as a supplier of manufacturing excellence and a design company, mastering its own concepts and brand. As the European leader in prototyping, Materialise owns the world's largest RP&M capacity based in one location and works with clients worldwide. The sensational experience of producing extraordinary products under the MGX label started in 2003 by focusing on the development of lighting items. The new aesthetics generated by taking technology as a starting point for creativity gave birth to a range of mind-blowingly beautiful objects.
Ever since the start-up of the department in 2003, MGX by Materialise has been looking for innovative ideas to work on, preferably ideas or forms that seemed almost impossible to produce. This search has lead to the company's existing collection of designer products, but it was also the start of some interesting collaborations with world renowned designers, which resulted in an astonishing collection of furniture and art objects. With these projects and collaborations, MGX by Materialise wishes to promote design but also tries to emphasise the endless possibilities of the technologies and the futuristic - but not so far-fetched - ideas behind it all.
.MGX is the file extension of the Materialise software, Magics. This software makes the rapid prototyping and manufacturing techniques accessible to professionals. The highly contemporary CAD file (made by today's leading design software packages such as Rhino, 3dStudioMax, Maya, Microstation, Cinema4d, Solid Works, etc) can be transformed into an STL-file and then converted by Magics into .MGX in order to render the design project printable.
Although .MGX has now ceased production of most of their collection of 3D-printed lights, we still have some remaining (show) models we can offer you, please visit our OFFERS page.
The extensive research conducted by the Dutch brand FOC (Freedom of Creation) in design for Rapid Manufacturing has resulted in innovative and successful commercial projects and the development of new industrial materials and software products. It has been the foundation for significant R&D projects with a range of industrial partners. FOC also consult other companies concerning the implementation of its designs and logistical strategies into their product lines.
Very sadly Freedom of Creation have now ceased production of their entire collection, but we still have some remaining (show) models we can offer you, please visit our OFFERS page.
The relatively young Italian brand exnovo was founded in 2010 as a brand of HSL, the first company to apply 3D printing technologies in Italy.
exnovo works mainly with Italian designers and produces their designs in limited editions or as one-offs. The company successfully bring together the technological tool of innovative 3D printing and traditional craftsmanship, a combination which has resulted in a beautifully crafted creative collection.
We have collaborated with exnovo since 2013 and offer you a number of their beautiful 3D-printed light designs.