Cutting 2D material and deforming into 3D
December 17, 2018 1:59 PM   Subscribe

I want to cut a 2 dimensional material and then deform it into 3 dimensions as part of an art project I have in mind. What I'm looking for is education into how certain 2 dimensional shapes deform into 3 dimensions.

In my head I keep thinking of clothing where you take something flat (cloth) and produce a cone (skirt). You start with a donut shape with a wedge cut out (2D). Then you join the discontinuous ends and get a cone with no top (3D). That's just a single example of what I'm looking for. I'm looking for more "you start with this and end with that" shapes.

Is there an easy way to figure out the 2D shape you need to produce a 3D shape? Not only that but how do you modify the outlines to get different 3D effects (twist, curvature, etc.) Again I end up thinking dressmaking although that's not where I'm going with this.
posted by Defective_Monk to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: A lot of 3d modelling/CAD programs can do this. For example I used to use Rhino 3d a lot, and it had a "surface unrolling" feature (that might be a good term to look for, or maybe model unrolling)

As that article alludes to, there are many shapes that can not be perfectly cut from flat materials, such as a sphere. You can cut an approximation only, and to get there you need to construct your 3d model out of unrollable parts. Like for a sphere you make an approximation out of slices and then you can unroll it.
posted by RustyBrooks at 2:10 PM on December 17, 2018

Best answer: For a computer-based solution. it seems like what you do is model in 3D and then use something like AutoCAD + Fusion360 / ExactFlat to develop a 2D pattern out of that.

If that looks appealing, you can use this system with a hobbyist license (non-commercial or under $100K in revenue) for free.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:10 PM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I would definitely recommend fusion 360 over rhinocad - rhino is what I used to use, fusion is what I use now. There's a learning curve but also it's very powerful and there are tons of videos about using it online.
posted by RustyBrooks at 2:20 PM on December 17, 2018

Look into papercraft tools like Pepakura.
posted by agentofselection at 2:27 PM on December 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

Is origami not what you are looking for?
posted by blnkfrnk at 3:59 PM on December 17, 2018

Depending on the material, you might want to understand bend allowance.
posted by exogenous at 4:14 PM on December 17, 2018

I found a google image search with the criteria "making packaging pattern" useful for different designs/shapes.
posted by b33j at 4:22 PM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you imagine a cone as a flat plane with a single point that has less than the "proper" amount of angle, then a hyperbolic surface is a plane where there is a point with MORE than the proper amount of angle. Turns out, you can crochet these hyperbolic surfaces! (more and more.) Cutting and sewing to form these might be possible as well.
posted by Wulfhere at 5:29 PM on December 17, 2018

Best answer: Even if it's not your end game, I think pattern drafting is not a bad place to start thinking about 3D forms. Clothes fitting is all about making flat things accommodate curves. This page has a bunch of diagrams showing ways clothes don't fit and how to adjust the flat pattern to add or remove material in the right places. The Pattern Magic series of books has some really kooky projects might give you some insight in how to manipulate fabric in three dimensions.

A really low-tech way to reverse engineer 3D shapes is to use tape, I have seen this technique used for shoe patterns, but there's no reason you couldn't do it on any random object.

Also seconding packaging design resources. There are books that consist entirely of templates for making different shapes of boxes!
posted by yeahlikethat at 6:36 PM on December 17, 2018

[$hape name] pattern > image search (works for basically any object)
posted by sexyrobot at 11:31 PM on December 17, 2018

Response by poster: Damn, I love MeFi. This is my first Ask and I am not disappointed. The computer stuff looks super-cool but learning that for what might be a one-off seems like a lot of work. The unrollable thing is good to know and obvious when you think about it (which I hadn't). Keeping it in the file in case it turns out I want to do it more. The pattern drafting is close to what I'm looking for but really more general principals. I may be able to work backwards from there, though.

Thank you all
posted by Defective_Monk at 8:22 AM on December 19, 2018

« Older iCloud Drive as a Common Data Location, More Like...   |   acting 101 for adults- Bay Area Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.