To explore the connection between biological and digital fabrication, the Mediated Matter Research Group at the MIT Media Lab studied the behavior of silkworms and designed the Silk Pavilion, a machine that creates a geodesic structure with the support of 6,500 computer-guided insects.

The overall geometry of the pavilion was based on by the silkworm's ability to generate dimensional cocoons, and developed using an algorithm that assigns a single continuous thread across patches providing various degrees of density.

The concept of using silkworms for structural engineering, however strange, has a number of benefits.

“The project speculates about the possibility in the future to implement a biological swarm approach to 3D printing," explains professor Oxman. "Imagine thousands of synthetic silkworms guided by environmental conditions, such as light or heat, supporting the deposition of natural materials using techniques other than layering. This will allow us to exclude waste and achieve increased control over material location, structure and property”.

Find more at MIT.

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