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Save time with parametric design

What are the characteristics of parametric design?

Parametric design is flexible, modular, intuitive, and efficient. It is a new way of designing 3D architecture that is beginning to gain attention and popularity.

When using parametric design in building construction, components like the number of rooms in a home or the thickness of its walls can be easily adjusted, and the rest of the affected design will be automatically adjusted to follow. Design components are referred to as parameters or variables because their properties are customizable.

Parameters can include things like:

  • Number of rooms
  • Shapes and dimensions
  • Positioning of doors and windows
  • Façade design
  • Wall and insulation thickness
  • Utility placement

These components, or parameters, work as a system. Changing one parameter within a design will affect the other parameters that relate to it. Making manual changes to each component in a 3D house design can require a lot of effort, but parametric design software calculates the relationships between components and effortlessly makes changes to the total 3D house design.

Rhino and Grasshopper

Why is parametric design important in construction?

There are many advantages to using parametric design when constructing a building. One major reason why 3D print architects use parametric design is to save time in the 3D house design process.

The sketch phase is a fluid, exploratory process in which design concepts and drawings are built up at the same time. This eventually leads to a blueprint, a 3D model visualization, and data documentation about the design.

But changes or adjustments are inevitable, and that’s why parametric design is so efficient. Unlike traditional design methods, parametric design uses algorithms to implement the impact of one adjusted component on an entire design.

Using parametric design, existing designs can also be easily altered or customized for new client projects. This means that less time is spent on the initial design phase and customization can be fast and easy. This is particularly useful in housing development projects in which a standard template can be adjusted by the 3D print architect to serve different client needs and create varied aesthetics across the project.

How do you create a parametric design?

CyBe uses Rhino combined with the Grasshopper plugin. While not traditionally used in architecture, Rhino is commonly used by designers for 3D modelling. It is a great tool because of its large open-source library. Grasshopper is responsible for the customization aspect of the design process. It is the coding or “scripting” behind the design, and it is presented in an intuitive and visual way.

Grasshopper presents design elements as “nodes”, boxes with input and output plugs. For example, a circle component could be a node and its center point and diameter would then be its inputs. A visual slider allows the designer to adjust these inputs. The output plugs of the node are then linked to other aspects within the total design. In this way, adjusting the diameter of the circle will affect the aspects of the design it is linked to. The total design consists of many nodes operating together as a system, and this system creates the blueprint for a home or other building.

Once the initial design phase is complete, CyBe uploads the design to Shapediver, a cloud-based platform for sharing parametric models. Shapediver allows clients to easily open and download the files, change features, and make adjustments.

After the client approves the design, the final step is the technical post-processing phase in which manual checks are made, for example, where utility installations will go. This is performed by, or in cooperation with the architect, contractor, or structural engineer. After this check is complete, the design is finalized.

Once the design phase is complete, CyBe’s Chysel software prepares the 3D house design for 3D printing. Here, the technician will optimize the printing process by choosing the start point, determining the fewest printing coordinates necessary, and setting the height and width of the concrete layers. When finished, the design is exported and is ready for CyBe’s Robot to print.