The Trabecula Bench: Slicing

The design files are sent to EOS GmbH, a Munich-based factory with six different types of laser-sintering machines. Before they begin, a slicing software divides the Trabecula into some 6,000 cross sections that are about 1/12-mm thick, which, according to Kyttänen, is “crude by today’s standards.” (Direct metal-sintering machines, which layer and fuse material with electron beams, can work in layers as this as 20 microns.)
freedom of creation trabecula bench sintering machine
After the CAD designs are entered into the computer and the building materials are put into place, the rapid-manufacture of the Trabecula bench is mostly an automated affair. From beginning to end, the process of sintering the entire bench takes the machines around 36 hours.

The bench is much larger than the sintering “build envelope” in which it’s made—a rectangular space that’s 15 by 27 by 23 inches, where the laser will move in x-y-z axes. This means that before slicing, Kyttänen has divided the drawing into three parts, and arranged them to fit in the bucket. “It’s like playing 3-D Tetris all the time.” Built into the sliced parts are interlocking pin joints—–something along the lines of dowel joints in carpentry, though Kyttänen prefers the image of pins that join broken bones, since the Trabecula was inspired by the light-but-strong structure of bird bones.

freedom of creation trabecula bench sintering computer
A technician at EOS works with Kyttänen's designs on a Selective Laser Sintering machine. Before they can be implemented, his designs must be run through slicing software that divides the digitized blueprints into some 6,000 horizontal cross-sections.

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