Sound Sensibilities

Collaboration with Shenfeng Gao, Jessie Xiang & Supriya Ambwani

The aim of this experiment was to test the boundaries of existing ceramic printing techniques by converting sound frequency of audio files into ceramic tiles. The robot arm mimics undulating sound waves to create unpredictable ceramic outputs. This project demonstrates failures when the self-supporting system is missing; different from conventional robotic printing logic, our “semi-solid” curvy clay medium will be supported by the extruded clay itself. To work with the less predictable material of clay, such as breakage and self-weighting collapse, we experimented with real-time manual calibration for a workable extrusion rate. The result proves that new need an advanced system to adjust printing speed or extrusion rate based on the dynamic z-value during the printing process at the Harvard GSD Fabrication Lab robotic station. Therefore, in the technical part, this paper is an experiment of printing clay in a dynamic direction with a limited supporting system; while in the conceptual part, the sound clay proves the possible sensor representation as an artistic value. The texture of the clay and unpredictable curvature translates the invisible surrounding environment into a touchable, solid medium.  

· Gallery 244 Exhibition at Harvard Ceramic Studio


· Development

Step 1: 
Record audio clips across Cambridge, MA.

Step 2:
Generate polylines from sound waves with Mosquito in Grasshopper.

Step 3:
Generate surfaces by using baked polylines from the audio file in Grasshopper and Rhino.

Step 4:
Create 3-dimensional tiles from polysurfaces in Rhino.

Step 5:
Used Dremel 3D printers to convert the digital models into physical models of PLA.

Step 6:
Generate toolpaths by re-generating polylines from the baked surfaces.

Step 7:
Joined the toolpaths as single curves in “Z” shapes at the z-value.

Step 8:
Created sound-wave generated toolpaths with layers.

Step 9:
A multiaxis ceramic extruder (Potterbot) was used to print ceramic tiles made of terracotta from the digital models. The robot model was ABB IRB 4400/L30, and the attachments used were a ceramic extruder and a nozzle. The printing process tested the project variables we defined in our methodology. Extrusion rates, which depend on the curvature of sound waves, were manually adjusted at the robotic station. Too much extrusion resulted in the model collapsing due to material weight.