Science & Technology
'3-D printed' dome uses 6,500 live silkworms
July 13, 2013 | 2 comments
Image Credit: CC 3.0 Fastily
An experiment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has produced a remarkable silk dome.
[!gad]Known as the 'Silk Pavilion', the silk-based structure was created using 6,500 silkworms. At the core of the project is the use of a special computer-based control mechanism that is capable of guiding the silkworms to produce specific patterns of silk. By combining this with an aluminum scaffold and a lattice of starter threads the team were able to entice the silkworms in to creating the rest of the structure.
The project was particularly important from the perspective of developing more sophisticated 3D printers. "The silkworm embodies everything an additive fabrication system currently lacks," said Media Lab professor Neri Oxman. "It jets a structural material with superior function-specific variable properties; it’s small in size and mobile in movement; and it can spin, rather than print, non-homogeneous fibrous structures without waste."
Humans have been breeding silkworms for fabric for over 5,000 years, but Media Lab professor Neri Oxman married their innate productivity with computerized efficiency.
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