Textile as Scaffold#


The need for composites stems from their versatility for adopting complementary qualities not found in other raw or processed materials commercially available. They are multidisciplinary and can be applied in a wide range of fields, and are in fact the mark of intelligent design, since they can be engineered to the designers’specifications.

Bio based composites (biocomposites) are materials consisting of two or more distinct phases bonded together: the matric or resin which provides structure and reinforces the natural fibres protecting them from the elements.

The matrix or resin can be bio based from a renewable or non-renewable source. The fibrous component can be derived from natural, organic fibres as well as recycled or waste products. “For example fibers from crops (cotton, flax or hemp), recycled wood, waste paper, crop processing byproducts or regenerated cellulose fiber (viscose/rayon).” Biocomposites

Reflections + Objective:#

A DIY anarchical material revolution: In the purpose of creating a more sustainable material base for multidisciplinary purposes, I will use non-conventional molding materials to create a conceptual 3D rigid textile piece. The “Living Lungs” is a conceptual piece representing the decaying of the lungs of the earth - mainly the forests and oceans - due to pollution and the turning point for restoration we are approaching within resource and material exploration and innovation, beginning to heal the deterioration of the environment. For this project I will use the following process:

  • Model 3D lungs (Rhino + RhinoCam)
  • 30cm x 30cm x 9cm wood panel
  • CNC milling to create lung positive relief mold
  • Jute (representing agriculture and deforestation: repurpose jute coffee sack) and Gum Arabic (natural acacia tree resin)
  • Vacuum press (mold forming)
  • Placing the lungs on a jute garment.

An amazing source of DIY materials and database for designers is:

DIY Materials - The Materials Generation


Mike Sheldrake: Cardboard Surfboads
Earthship - Biocomposites Scaffolding
Studio Aisslinger : Hemp Fibre + Resin
Permeability and Tensile Strength of Concrete with Arabic Gum Biopolymer
Applications of Natural Polymer: Gum Arabic
Mycellium Based Biomaterials

Techiques + Softwares#

Making the mold:#

RHINOCAM + CNC Milling Machine

For this mold I used a pre-modeled 3D lung: Thingiverse: 3D Lungs Download

  • Once you make your 3D model or download one from Thingiverse or Sketchfab
  • Make and extrude a “bounding box” (put in it’s own layer)
  • Measure your CNC milling tool (drill bit) - in this case I am using ShopBot 10cm max drill bit
  • Decide if you are going to mill the positive or negative of your 3D mold (depending on material and design you will have less wrinkles and more control over malleability) - I am using the positive releif
  • Rotate 3D (flat on front viewport)
  • Make sure your model is at least 5mm down from the top boundary of your bounding box (sets a clear boundary for your object from the tool)
  • If you want a base continuing from the seam of your design for your mold, extrude the bottom bounding box line up by a minimum of 10mm
  • Check your scale
  • Always position your object on 0,0 coordinate and position below Z plane
  • Open RhinoCAM plugin
  • Select “stock” (you can directly select your bounding box or select custum dimensions and coordinates for your stock)
  • CNC milling machine works first on a horizontal roughing stage excavating with a thicker tool at a higher speed
  • The detaling stage is optional - I chose to keep the roughing texture for my lungs as a representation of decay of the environment but also on the other hand a representation of mountain ranges and nature itself being wild and rough
  • Drilling tools: measure your tool and choose from RhinoCAM or add custom (height, width, bowl or flat)
  • Depending on the material you choose for your mold adjust the speed
  • Keep in mind you need a clearance plane in your cut parameter with a minimum boundary of 1mm from your stock (so that the tool can lift and place itself back down onto the piece)
  • Step over: Take note of your tool diameter and control how close or far apart you want your perforations
  • Step down control: Set depth per perforation (maximum should be 50% of your tool diameter)
  • Cut patterning: choose linear, pocketing, etc, and play simulation to secure there are no errors in your process
  • Double check your parameters and save post to “G-code” (the language for your CNC machine to read)

Using the CNC machine:

  • Place the block – stock material at the CNC table , aligned with x and y axis
  • Make sure your material is flat and very well fixed on the table
  • Put the milling bit you have chosen and set Z as zero 0 at the top of your material
  • Move the machine in order to set your x and y ZERO
  • Launch the first Horizontal roughing strategy
  • Once finished, vacuum the waste material
  • Change your tool to the thinner milling bit you have selected for the second strategy
  • Take out the milled piece, clean the table and save the tools in their boxes.
  • Set the Z zero of your new milling bit and launch the second parallel finishing strategy

Note: always have your hair up and wear goggles

Composite Tests#

For the purpose of a biodegradable fungi symbiotic planter I chose jute an agricultural textile and natural fibre paired with arabic gum resin from acacia trees in rock form diluted to my desired thickness with water as well as a mineral acrylic castic composite of 2:3 ratio liquid: powder (AcrylCast) Here are the results of these tests:

Vaccum Forming:#

  • Place you mold and biocomposite in between the plastic film layers (one underneath the form to cover and protect the vaccum surface and the rest on top of the form)
  • Place a cotton bleeder that will absorb the excess of material in between one of the layers of plastic on top of the form.
  • Make small pinholes in the plastic to allow the air to be suctioned properly and the silicon lid of the vaccum former can press tightly onto the form.
  • Since this biocomposite can not be dried into vacuum ( it needs air in order to dry ) once pressed place it in a dehydrator or let dry in the sun.
  • This form fits into a conventional food dehydrator, it was placed for one hour at a temperature of 60 degrees C.
  • When dried this could be a wall hanging.
  • I sewed this onto a jute top as an approach to be closer to nature through our clothing and to protect the environments which allow us to thrive as a species and sustain our lives.


3D Lungs
Jute Top Laser Cut: Rhino File


Eclectric Trends: Crystallization

Dream Weaver:#

Making a woven structure for the crystals to form on: Dreamcatcher

Dreamcatchers are an ancient Native American protection talisman. They are traditionally woven as a spiral spider-like web with additional feathers or bead ornaments. They are traditionally hung over a window in a bedroom, they work by trapping dreams in the spiral web and filtering the good dreams from the bad. The bad dreams will stay trapped in the web and ignite with the morning sun. The good dreams will travel softly down the feathers and bead ornaments down to the dreamer’s head.

Note:Alum crystals grow best on a fibrous structure such as paper, woven fabric or thread, organic porous materials such as wood and paper are also good growing materials.

Alum Crystals:#

  • Determine the amount of water you need for the size of your project
  • Prepare a clean working surface and clean recepient for your shape (take note that if you lay your shape flat, that side will grow flat)
  • Use powdered alum, you may recycle alum crystals from past experiments with growing alum crystals
  • Start to simmer your water in a non-reactive cooking pot
  • Begin to add alum powder and stir until fuly disolved
  • Keep adding alum until it no longer dissolves (check for non-soluble alum residue at the bottom of the cooking pot)
  • You have created an over-saturated alum solution
  • Filter the solution with a coffee filter to make certain no lumps of alum go into your recepient (if any large non disolved particles settle in your recepient all crystals will grow around it and not your form)
  • Cover your recepient, keep at room temperature and wait for one to two days for full crystal INFESTATION!
  • This dreamcatcher was covered in crystals within two days.