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Inaugural lecture of Charlie Wang

Friday 24 February 2017

From personalised products to new challenges in 3D/4D printing

On Friday, 24 February, Prof. Charlie Wang of the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering will hold his inaugural lecture in the Aula of the TU Delft. The title of this lecture is ‘Computational Design and Fabrication - Turbine to Advance Production’.

Charlie Wang will use his inaugural lecture to offer an insight into the production processes of the future. Ranging from clothing to medical instruments made especially for a single patient’s operation. Benefitted from digitisation, product personalisation is set to become increasingly simpler and automatic in the future. Computational tools will play a key role in the product design of the future. During his lecture, Charlie will demonstrate a personalised wetsuit that was made with using the latest computational design insights.

3D printing – nowadays, a technique most of us are familiar with – is a significant resource when creating personalised products. This technique enables the production of personalised products (i.e. personalised manufacturing), but still has numerous limitations. For example, the number and position of the supporting structures that are necessary during the printing process. These extra structures need to be cut away after printing – a process that can easily leave marks on the product.

Charlie believes that self-learning computer models can be used to considerably improve the quality of 3D-printed products. A learning algorithm could enable the software to ‘learn’, for example, the optimal printing direction for a specific product. This helps to reduce the number of support structures required, while also teaching the printer to position the structures that are necessary at points where they are least visible. For example, when printing a model of a human head, the support structures would ideally be located not on the face, but on the back of the head. Human perception and how the product will be used are naturally also of importance in this regard.

Computational design is also a crucial element in the development and optimisation of new types of spatial printing and also the printing of time-variant shapes, such as the so-called 4D printing. In this case, how the printed material bends and folds during the production process contributes to the final product.

Wang has far-reaching international collaboration plans in the field of computational design and fabrication; the aim is that TU Delft will play a central and coordinating role in this area of emergent technology.

Next to the personalised wetsuitCustomized 3D-printed Jigs for Bone Surgery is also a case from Wang that has been exhibited at Mind the Step 2016.