Research produced with the Material Processes and Systems Group, Harvard GSD
The paper Fluid Equilibrium: Material Computation in Ferrofluidic Castings, presented at the ACADIA 2018 Conference, provides a detailed overview of the project.
Fluid Equilibrium is a computationally based manufacturing process that allows for variable pattern casting through the use of ferrofluid: a mixture of suspended magnetic nanoparticles in a carrier liquid. The capacity of ferrofluid to form intricate spike and labyrinthine packing structures from ferrohydrodynamic instabilities is well recognized in industry and popular science. In this paper we employ these instabilities as a mold for the direct casting of rigid materials with complex periodic features. Furthermore, using a bitmap-based computational workflow and an array of high-strength neodymium magnets with linear staging, we demonstrate the ability to program the macro-scale pattern formation by modulating the magnetic field density within a single cast. Using this approach, it is possible to program specific patterns in the resulting cast tiles at both the micro- and macro-scale and thus generate tiled arrays with predictable halftone-like image features. We demonstrate the efficacy of this approach for a variety of materials typically used in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries (AEC), including epoxys, ceramics, and cements.