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Futurefactories: the application of random mutation to three-dimensional design

By Lionel Theodore Dean


The title of the project, ‘FutureFactories’, describes an exploration of direct digital manufacturing and the use of this technology in creating new models for consumer product design practice.\ud \ud \ud In additive fabrication itself, there is no economic advantage in producing identical artefacts: given this, and the free-form potential of a technology that can deliver almost any form imaginable, the project examines the possibility of modifying the design with every artefact produced. The aim is to create automated systems capable of volume production, establishing mass individualisation: the industrial scale production of one-off artefacts.\ud \ud \ud This work explores the potential to combine parametric CAD modelling with computer programming\ud to create animated meta-designs that change in real time. These scripts introduce a random computer generated element into each physical product ‘printed out’ using direct digital manufacturing. The intention is to combine qualities normally associated with the vagaries of the hand-made with the technical resolution of industrial mass-manufacture; whilst at the same time maintaining a coherent design and identity.\ud \ud \ud The outputs from this practice-based research project consist of inspirational products ranging from gallery pieces to commercial retail products and, alongside the real-world artefacts, the scripted meta-designs from which they are created.\ud \ud \ud The use of such software processes and real-time networks as generative tools, questions existing\ud transient boundaries of practice, and exposes the irrelevance of conventional definitions of role. It is clear that the outcomes of such a new model of creative production cannot be thought of as\ud traditionally conceived pieces. The outcomes of the research suggest that the resulting artefacts\ud can be considered both functionally useful and as art. Outside of that, existing definitions convey\ud little of the reality of their production, as they lie in some new, as yet unspecified, arena of\ud production

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