What if 3D prints could grow?
The project I want to realize is to combine modern 3d printing techniques with the oldest ancient form of 3d printing: mineral crystals.
Mineral crystals are in a way a form of additive manufacturing that has existed since before there were even living organisms, forming solids layer by layer in the earth crust under completely natural circumstances. In contrast, industrial printing uses high tech machines in a controlled environment to create completely manmade shapes. Both processes build up material in layers. Both are not fast techniques, slowly growing to completion. These are two techniques that have a completely different form language, one organically unpredictable and one very precisely man-made. They have different strengths and weaknesses and both have their own design restrictions. But down to the essence, they are based on the same process.
The past months I have been experimenting with growing crystals, understanding this process, trying different chemical solutions and exploring the possiblities of the aforementioned combination. When combining these materials, I aim to make them co-dependant. The crystals cannot grow in thin air, they are fragile, look precious, and will cling to any support they can grab onto. 3D printing allows for any shape, virtually unlimited intricacy, and a way to 'design the crystals'. They are a perfect fit.
I've found that making crystals follow the desired shape isn't easy but creates a magnificent effect. In nature crystals are stubborn. You'll not find them growing in straight lines, in perfect circles or in regular patterns. While in the past weeks I've accomplished just that, setting them to my own hand.