Fourfoursixsix, an acclaimed international architecture practice; EOS, a leading manufacturer of laser-sintering systems; and Ogle Models, makers of exquisite, cutting-edge models; are delighted to support the world’s biggest egg hunt this Easter. These companies have worked together to create a laser-sintered egg that is intricate in structure, yet contemporary and sculptural.
The egg is on display from February 21, when the UK’s capital becomes home to 200 giant and uniquely crafted Easter eggs during the Fabergé Big Egg Hunt. The collaboration between Fourfoursixsix, EOS and Ogle Models demonstrates how 3D printing technologies can deliver results that are impossible to create with any other method.
The architectural design concept
Daniel Welham of Fourfoursixsix explains their design approach for the egg: “We decided to consciously move away from the development of a merely surface treatment to the egg. The geometry in question provided us with the perfect platform to begin applying a set of architectural principles to the overall form. Through this process we played with structure, light and shadow and began to develop a three-dimensional architectural terrain.”
And he adds: “Conceptually, the design works around a rational grid of components configured to react to both light and scale across the surface of the egg. Each component incorporates an aperture within its design that can adjust to control the amount of light entering the internal space of the form.”
3D design is an integral part of the process at Fourfoursixsix and they were excited by the potential this project held to exploit these modern methods.
Designing and manufacturing the egg formed an opportunity to combine this technology with laser sintering to create a highly intricate sculptural form that is both contemporary and unique. This format allowed Fourfoursixsix to apply a playful and avant-garde approach to the treatment of the piece, free from the limitations that more formal construction approaches may have held.
Additive Manufacturing – the manufacturing process
Stuart Jackson, EOS Regional Manager for the UK, explained why the company did not hesitate to join this exciting project: “As a mainly engineer-driven company we normally focus on industry applications in aerospace, medical, automotive and the like. The egg is a perfect example of laser-sintering applications that can catch people’s imagination on another level. Here, as with all other cases, the design drives the manufacturing and not vice versa. Parts can be created that would not have been possible with conventional manufacturing technologies. As such, this laser-sintered egg is a perfect example of the vast possibilities the technology can offer.”
Laser sintering is an additive layer manufacturing technology and differs significantly from traditional manufacturing methods. Digital three-dimensional data must be available for the objects for this technology to be used to manufacture products for a variety of industries. Three-dimensional models of products are generated on a computer using CAD software. This 3D CAD model is sliced into thin layers during production. The desired geometry is then manufactured layer by layer with the aid of laser-sintering technology, based on this model. First, a thin powder layer of plastic, metal or molding sand is applied. A focused laser beam solidifies the powder according to the digital cross-section of the material. Once a layer is completed, the platform is lowered by several tenths of a millimeter and the process starts all over again. The non-fused material is removed during the last step. In this way, it is possible to produce highly complex parts—like the egg—without any downstream work cycles or use of additional tools. Moreover, several different parts can be manufactured in a single construction phase.
Daniel and Stuart agreed: “We wanted to test people’s perceptions on what can be created using these modern methods. We hope people look at the piece and question how it was both designed and made. While laser sintering within architectural circles is not uncommon, within a more public environment it is still a relatively unknown technology. We felt the project provided a real opportunity to reach out to a wider audience and showcase what can be achieved.”
And Daniel concludes: “Our egg aims to show the potential of 3D design and production methods. The intention was to develop a design that could not be created any other way. We have used our ability to work with these tools to develop an intricate, delicate and complex piece that intrinsically connects back to the spirit of the Fabergé brand, which focuses on highly accomplished design and craftsmanship alongside the use of exquisite materials. In some ways, our design brings this concept into the modern era on a larger scale: a piece of 21st Century digital opulence.”