Elastomeric Response is a process of design and discovery from digital to analog platforms. The system is an amalgamation of information, which is captured through material testing and performance across a surface and materialized through digital modeling, tooling, and casting. Castable Urethane Elastomers were chosen because of its elastic properties, relative tensile strength, and translucent qualities. Further research into mold-making processes became vital to the creation of this system using a plastic material.
Initially, the wall system was to take advantage of different hardnesses allowed by the elastomer by locally defining certain hardness where more structural support is needed. It quickly became apparent that the wall would not be self-supportive and required a rigid back-up. The elastomeric system responds to kinetic forces, giving and stretching as needed. Its high translucency and unique form make it almost glow in the sunlight, casting ribbons of shadows in spaces behind it. Finally, a container was modeled into the form to allow a growing medium to be introduced as well as luminaries. Data Input/ Parameters: The form was derived using EPDM rubber roofing membrane to fold and stretch as the elastomer would have. Creating anything in a digital environment became very difficult since it could not respond to forces like gravity. Using Evan Douglis’s work as a precedent for aggregating components, a final study was produced that could exploit the qualities in both the material and casting process.
We chose to cast the component’s form as a flat surface, then fold and bend it to its final shape due to the form’s complexity. Undercuts became too problematic to pursue a mold where we could cast the form as one whole piece. We first created the mold in Rhino, then added a separate tool path to the surface as a way of embedding a process into the surface for added detail. The mold was CNC milled from high-density foam, then sealed and coated with a release agent. For casting, two elastomer compounds were combined ( Hapflex 1021 and 1056) to yield a hardness of about 40A. Heat was then introduced to the elastomer cast to expedite the curing process. A flexible epoxy was finally used during the assembly process to bond edges and seams, allowing even the joints to move as needed. Pushnut connections and custom cast connectors were used to connect the system of pieces together.
This project shows the potential of crossing between digital and analog environments at each stage of a projects evolution. It demonstrates the importance of a certain craft where the hand becomes evident. The casting process was for the most part a success. More investigation into the joint is required for further evolution of the project to make assembly more streamlined and intelligent.