Arduino, Robotics
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InFoam Printing – 3D printing smart foam elements

Ideated during a five days workshop held by Covestro in cooperation with the architecture faculty of the FH Münster MSA, InFoam Printing is a novel production process to alter the properties of flexible foam by giving it a skeleton which is able to distribute forces differently and create new kinetic effects.

By injecting a hardening material, the team is able to create complex geometries inside the foam.  Dynamic geometries are created using Rhinoceros Grasshopper and injected in the material via UR5 robot arm equipped with a customised injection tool made using Uitimaker 3D printed parts, Arduino and SFB-Industries Pinch Solenoid Valve.

Since the material is injected by a needle and in a fluid state, two basic shapes can be realized: Spheres and lines. Their size and resolution can be defined by the foam’s cell structure and the injection parameters, such as the injection amount per second or the speed of the needle moving in or out of the foam. At the current state of the project, a polymer resin is injected which can be altered in a wide range of stiffness. This gives the team the possibility of exploring various material-based interactions between the foam and the injected geometry. By injecting structures, the foam can also be altered partially in its degree of hardness. An effect that can be used in various products and normally requires many manufacturing and production steps. Traditionally, foams with different qualities have to be cut and then glued together again to achieve this kind of variation in hardness.

It is also possible to change the foams kinetic behavior when exposed to compression. By implementing lines into a foam cube for example, they can give the foam cube a torsic behaviour. Or allow the foam to be only deformable into one direction and remain stiff if the same pressure is applied from the opposite direction.

Project Page

Credits: Sascha Praet and Dorothee Clasen (Designers from Cologne, KISD) and Adam Pajonk (Architect at FH Münster) with supervision by Prof. Ulrich Blum (FH Münster, MSA).

See also: 3D Printing Freeform and Vector Based Objects