Singapore university unveils stunning structure

A massive 14.5-meter architectural structure made using 3D printed parts has taken pride of place in the atrium of the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).

University professors Felix Raspall and Carlos Banon decided to explore 3D technology to create a gigantic structure, vMesh, which is a hugely complicated structure. Each of the 91 joints were tailored for the unique geometry of a set module, which allowed them a great deal more freedom with the overall design

The thickness of each individual piece also corresponds to the amount of load it has to bear and this is far more than an art installation. It’s a demonstration of Physics, design and 3D printing all in one.

SUTD 3D printed structure

Strength through structure 

The overall tetrahedral shape gives the structure stability, but most of its strength comes from the geometry that was decide with the help of Computer Aided Design. This helped the professors create what looks like an organic and free-form shape that serves as the centre piece of an Open Day at the university.

The structure has an imposing stance and it has a subtle, but definite impact on the lighting and look and feel of the atrium.

It effectively formed a centrepiece for the open day, as well as an instantly recognisable assembly point and a landmark for those visiting the university. It also helped to define a relatively neutral and nondescript space in the new campus.

Function, not just form 

As you’d expect from an institute focusing on technology and design, this installation is functional as well as beautiful. It supports three long platforms that showcase the SUTD students’ work.

This installation will undoubtedly stay in place and the professors can easily modify it so this artwork could comfortably evolve over time and become the calling card for the university. It could easily go on to become a social media star and

Singapore has laid a claim to being the Far Eastern capital of 3D printing of late and the National Research Foundation committed $42 million to a centre of excellence in May. It is a country with a population of just over 5 million people and it’s less than 300 square miles of land, so in real terms Singapore is a tiny nation. But it’s having a massive, disproportionate impact on 3D printing and technology in general.

SUTD is a leader

The university is a real leader in the field and is working on 4D printing, objects than can change their shape and form over time or in response to an outside stimulus.

The institution is also involved in Very Large Scale Prototyping and is at the vanguard of the movement. The SUTD has found a way to create large models using smaller printers that simply slice up a larger digital model to produce an oversize and 3D jigsaw puzzle that fit together to produce the larger prototype. The SUTD hopes that this technology can be used to produce buildings quickly and effectively in the future.

So the SUTD is a flag bearer for the country and for 3D printing as a whole. We’re happy to have them on board and we know that big things are coming from this small country.