Additive fabrication, often referred to as 3D printing, is the construction of objects by adding material. This stands in contrast to subtractive methods, which involve removing material by means of milling or cutting. Although additive fabrication and 3D printing are thought of as synonymous, additive fabrication encompasses a far broader range of construction, and new dimensions are on the horizon, inspiring innovation across scales and applications. For instance, can you print a full-scale building? How can we structurally engineer color and alter on the nano-scale? If trees grow additively, can biology be designed for fabrication?
What are these new dimensions for 3D printing? How are they defined? The future areas for additive fabrication span along spatial (how the material is laid out in space/geometry), material (how new materials can be used and integrated with other constituents), and temporal (how materials/geometry can change through time) dimensions, and discussions in this chapter along with examples from our research will highlight novel design potentials in these areas.
In our lab, the Mediated Matter Group at the MIT Media Lab (led by Dr. Neri Oxman), we explore how these new additive dimensions can push the future of design. Our research focuses on digital fabrication and its intersection with ...