Tools of a New Craft: Designing Biomaterial Textiles and Sculptural Forms from Haptic Data


SOCIAL: @sutherlinsanto


The integration of biological processes in design is rapidly dissolving the distinctions between the arts, sciences, and engineering while facilitating closer connections between our built and natural worlds. As bio-based methods of making filter into creative workflows, artists and designers have the opportunity to explore the unique performance and aesthetics that bio-materials offer through robotic 3D printing.

In this workshop, participants will receive an introduction to using collaborative robots (cobots) as tools for creative experimentation, an overview of digital printing design considerations in contemporary fabrication workflows, and a tutorial demonstrating a procedure for creating custom biopolymer gels for robotic 3D printing. Participants will capture and record hand-guided motion via cobot to produce toolpaths which can be digitally refined and augmented, then exported back to the cobots, allowing participants to robotically print their own 2.5D and 3D designs and sculptural forms made from natural and plant-based materials and their own hand motions.

This workshop aims to be equal parts technical tutorial, free space for robot/material experimentation, and a studio charrette with the goal of producing a library of naturally-derived biopolymer textiles and furniture-scale sculptural objects —ultimately questioning, can tacit and kinesthetic knowledge find a useful place in digital creation?


  • Introduction to using UR cobots as a tool for creative experimentation in art and design
  • Introduction to using biomaterials in contemporary digital fabrication workflows
  • Methods of making and validating extruder-ready biogel (with an emphasis on using locally sourced materials
    Methods of 3D printing with customized biogels using UR cobots and paste extruders
  • Workflow for: (using Rhino7/Grasshopper) capturing haptic data (hand guided motion) via UR cobots; digitally manipulating and aggregating the captured motion profile for the creation of 2.5D and 3D forms; motion simulation and toolpath creation to ‘print’ 2.5D and 3D biopolymer designs


  • Digital library of recorded haptic data (captured hand ‘gestures’) and the forms built from those motion profiles
  • Physical biomaterial print prototypes in the form of textile samples (qty TBD, target dimensions: ~45cm x 60cm)
  • Physical biomaterial print prototypes in the form of stools or other furniture scale sculptural forms (size and qty TBD)


Previous experience operating robots, using paste extruders, or working with biogels is not required, however, a beginner to intermediate working knowledge of Rhino 7 and Grasshopper is required to take this workshop.