RMIT's new 3D printed mace was born of a unique collaboration between engineering, design and silversmithing.
VISUAL: Mace slowly emerges onto screen against a black background.
TEXT ON SCREEN: RMIT University presents
AUDIO: Ambient music plays throughout.
ROLAND SNOOKS SPEAKS: I think as a symbol for the university it's very much an attempt to try and bring together or emphasise what it is that RMIT considers to be its strengths in terms of technology and design and its aspirations in those areas.
TEXT OF SCREEN: Creating the new University mace
SCOTT MAYSON SPEAKS: The university was looking at redeveloping a mace and we took on board that project from both an architectural and an industrial design perspective.
TEXT ON SCREEN: Mace / meis/ noun 2. A staff bourne before or by certain officials as symbol of office.
VISUAL: Roland Snooks and Scott Mayson appear on screen in interview scenario.
TEXT ON SCREEN: Dr Roland Snooks and Dr Scott Mayson, School of Architecture and Design.
ROLAND SNOOKS SPEAKS: So the project really became a collaboration between the different types of work that we do, so the work that I do is focussed on algorithmic design, computational design, and we were looking at what is the relationship between what are effectively bottom up processes of design and the way they relate to more direct formal modelling and manipulation and form.
VISUAL: Various close up shots of the mace against a black backgrounds.
ROLAND SNOOKS SPEAKS: So I guess one of the key things about this project is that it's supposed to bring together the leading work that's happening in design and also in technology at the school, so part of this technology is software side technology in terms of design process and part of this is got to do with technology involved in actually fabricating, or making, the mace.
VISUAL: Cut back to two Roland and Scott speaking.
SCOTT MAYSON SPEAKS: One of the really interesting things that we're able to do if that algorithmic process was to look at how we actually optimise the structure of that algorithm because effectively the swirl patterns within the mace, some of them aren't able to be manufactured in the printer itself.
VISUAL: Shots of patterns on a computer screen, visualisations of how the mace was put together.
SCOTT MAYSON SPEAKS: So we were able to write some software that went in and actually looked at all of the geometry that wasn't build-able and we could remove that geometry from the algorithm and then replace it with geometry that would allow us to build the structure of the mace in the titanium 3D printer.
VISUAL: Cut back to Scott and Roland speaking.
ROLAND SNOOKS SPEAKS: The algorithm loosely fits into a category that's described as a behavioural algorithm, in this case it's a multi agent algorithm, this is an algorithm that we see a lot within natural systems.
VISUAL: Animals in nature are pictured, such as a school of fish and a flock of birds.
ROLAND SNOOKS SPEAKS: So it's the underlying algorithm that operates within flocks of birds, schools of fish, the way social insects interact and it's an algorithm which it looks at individual entities, we describe them as agents, and the way those agents interact with without any understanding of the overall flock or form or swarm, but simply through some very simple relationships….
VISUAL: Cuts back to Roland and Scott speaking.
ROLAND SNOOKS SPEAKS: …to those that are immediately adjacent to them, and through all these thousands and millions of interactions, then some type of global behaviour emerges from that.
VISUAL: Various shots of the practical production of the mace: computer images, a timelapse of the 3D printer printing the mace, a man operating the 3D printer while wearing a mask, the mace emerging in slow motion from the printer and lots of close ups of the mace before it was polished.
SCOTT MAYSON SPEAKS: For us it was a really great project to look at those traditional form creation processes and then how to bring in the computational work through the swarm algorithms and how the structure could be reinterpreted from a new paradigm in terms of additive manufacturing.
ROLAND SNOOKS SPEAKS: So the mace is printed in four parts, so it has these three primary joints, and this is limited by the size - or the bed size of the 3d printer - the 3d printer is laying down layers of titanium, which are very, very thin and then it's welding them together effectively with a laser. In the end you end up having a volume of titanium powder some of which is fused together, welded together, and that becomes the object, but suddenly when you're printing something on this small scale technology completely changes and so to realise that the best person to fix the different parts together is a jewellery designer, somebody who is able to actually weld titanium under a microscope on incredibly fine scales.
VISUAL: Shots of the finished mace close up against a black background.
SCOTT MAYSON SPEAKS: Putting together the mace we were hand finishing and hand polishing components and checking fit and bringing the mace together to really effect to have a gap of the thickness of someone's hair, the way that the current mace is formed, it really shows how RMIT can work together to collaborate and how those strengths work between design, engineering and golden and silver-smithing, in this case, to bring the mace to fruition.
VISUAL: Shot of the mace in its entirety against a black background.
TEXT ON SCREEN: RMIT logo appears.
AUDIO: Ambient music fades out
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