Room for Expansion
3D printed multi density bio foam seating has the potential to minimise the waste of materials, improve the level of load distribution, potentially resulting in greater levels of comfort, and reduce the use of traditional unsustainable petrochemical foams. Previous research shows that foam density can be altered with thermo-control during the 3D printing extrusion process. The evenly distributed blowing agent within the filament, creates gas bubbles of different sizes through a range of temperatures, thus creating a more aerated product changing the material density and softness.
This research study focuses on the thermo-control of 3D printing of soft foams and the design opportunities these offer through the development of a parametric design system tailored to allow variable density within a single print specifically customised to an individual’s seated pressure map. The research concentrates on the thermo-control of density rather than density being defined by the geometry of various lattice structures.
Through an iterative design and testing process, physical samples were 3D printed and evaluated. Digital control was further developed through a script in Grasshopper (a plugin for Rhinoceros 3D) which allowed the precise control of adjustable settings, such as, temperature, extrusion rate and print speed. Extensive evaluation of the aeration of the 3D print was conducted by way of cross-sections and appraising density values. With the final output of this research being a computational parametric modelling software system and a series of variable density foam 3D prints for furniture applications.