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Spraying natural fibers to build cotton-candy surfaces

Zoe RomanoJuly 14th, 2014


During Fab10- Fab Festival in Barcelona I met Jin Shihui who introduced me to CandyProject, a research project exploring the process of spraying natural fiber to create a non-woven textile that can be used to produce anything from building components to ornamental artifacts.


By means of air pressure we separate the fibers from a roving allowing them to self-organize and reassemble due to the surface tension caused by a fine mist of adhesive. This creates a controlled fibrous aggregation producing an emergent morphospace encompassing the initial substructure.

The robot Jin is holding in her hands in the picture above uses air pressure to separate fibers into individual strands. While the fibers are still separated they are embedded with an adhesive spray and all parameters are controlled within the robot  with an Arduino Uno:

Designing an end effector for the robot to precisely spray the fibers allowed us to predefine the spraying protocol of any object, while also modifying the material properties at each of its parts. Varying degrees of material density, thickness, and rigidity could be achieved by simply adjusting certain parameters in the spraying process while always insuring repeatability and precision. Controlling these properties, coupled with the environmental and thermal nature of the fibers used, opens up a wide range of possible applications ranging from optimized building envelopes to furniture and custom made fashion. We want to share details of our project  so everyone can  build your own spraying tool and develop your usage with this technic.

Take a look at the video below showing the whole amazing process from growing to spraying the fibers:

Some other pictures of the project developed by a team composed by Jin Shihui, Ali Yerdel, Jean Akanish, and Alexander Dolan, during the Master in Advanced Architecture in 2012-13 at IAAC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia: