i-Mesh R&D
Structural Design optimisation – the Making of joints

The main challenge of this interesting project born from the collaboration of the Miralles Tagliabue and the i-Mesh studio was to create a structural module, based on the concept provided by the international architecture studio, capable of being covered with hi-tech made fabric. by Alberto Fiorenzi. The project concerned the development of a part of the Paris metro.


This very stimulating challenge immediately made me think of three-dimensional framed structures held together by appropriately shaped nodes and easily reproducible using the FDM process for 3D printing. Structs and Joints.

The algorithm process is based on the customization of a node based on the modelling of the mesh geometry defined according to the design and construction feasibility purposes of the mockup model at reduced costs. The grafts, the body of the node (and other small characterizations of the final geometry), the size of the structs all fall within the settable features of this algorithm.


A very important implementation has been added in the terminal part of the generative routine, as some configurations set by the operator could have generated topologically incorrect meshes in terms of local normals. Therefore, the addition of a small block capable of converting this mesh into a new mesh based on voxelization principles has allowed the normalization of the final topology in order to correctly execute the 3d printing process.

Before proceeding with the printing phase, excellently performed by the Lombardia-based company Caracol-am (caracol-am), first in polyamide (PA12) and then definitively in ABS.

Below is an interesting roundup of images depicting the salient phases of computational design and additive manufacturing. A little anecdote, before proceeding in 1: 1 scale I could not resist and I reproduced on my 3D printer from home one of the 8 nodes, in particular the number 2 (renamed “crow’s foot”).


Below is a short video demo of the algorithm at work.