I have been experimenting with ‘mesh walking’ for a number of years. Initially these were entirely self-coded exercises, that walked pre-assembled unstructured vertex-based Rhino Tri- and Quad- Meshes using Python scripts inside Grasshopper.
More recently, I have rebuilt it into a full ‘Mesh Traverse‘ C# library (MT Library) on the back of the excellent Plankton Half-Edge (HE) library developed by Dan Piker, Will Pearson and others. My library extends Plankton, with walking techniques like Breadth-First Search and related graph processes.
Other methods in the MT library are focused solely on fabrication and assembly requirements, generating Strip-based HE Meshes, that are automatically segmented, tabbed, unrolled, sequenced and labelled ready for lasercutting.
The library is still in development, and I am currently testing it using physical prototypes.
Example Project: Tallinn Biennale 2019 Installation
The Mesh Traverse library was vital in successfully realising an installation at the 2019 Tallinn Biennale within a limited time frame.
The “Growing Habitats” installation, designed by the Biennale’s head curator Dr Yael Reisner and assistant curator Barnaby Gunning, is comprised of 3 different oculi that form a bench, a window, and an overhead skylight. Each oculi is made from dozens of lasercut 8mm thick felt strips, that are manually stapled together to give a ‘pleated’ textural appearance.
Using the MT library we were able to quickly test different strip-patterns, as well as different dimensions and spacing for the connective tabs. Once these factors were determined, we used Petras Vestartas’ OpenNest plugin to efficiently nest the forms prior to lasercutting.
The finished installation:
Earlier Mesh Traverse Experiments:
The MT library can walk the topology network of a mesh, and then apply compound transformations to unfold it. It can unfold large unstructured meshes, and from either a single or multiple source faces simultaneously.
The images below show different geometries unfolding, as well as Centre Line networks, false-colour representations of distance to Root Face, or length of UnFold Strips, and so on.
This work is indebted to, and builds upon, the brief methodology that was suggested on Mateusz Zwierzycki‘s website.