Ferro tiles

Working closely with scientists at the Wyss Institute, we developed a series of tools for casting ferrofluid patterns into hardening solids. Our approach made it possible to use a single mold to produce intricate tiles made of different materials. My contributions included expanding the range of materials, and using image processing to quantitatively predict the aesthetic attributes of the finished product. To learn more, read the paper.

periodic patterns with an orange hue
porcelain casting sample
resin casting sample
gypsum cement casting sample

47 prototypes to get it right

Casting process

For commercial viability the original process has been modified for clay bodies which are commonly used in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industries. As a result it was possible to imprint ferrofluidic patterns into slip clay.

original casting method
modified casting method

Results

Our research confirmed that patterns can be cast into epoxy resin, gypsum cement, self-drying gypsum cement, hydraulic cement, terracotta, porcelain, and stoneware. We achieved textures with material-specific patterns that could not be reproduced by any other moulding method.

results diagram

Analysis

To understand the appearance of the patterns below the surface, I scanned the casts using X-ray microcomputed tomography. This yielded a series of snapshots of the tile along the z-axis that stitched together into a 3D model. I performed a Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) analysis on the images. My findings demonstrated that the cast resin samples have higher, more uniform features. Gypsum and hydraulic cement samples, on the other hand, have lower frequency patterns with irregular boundaries.

FFT analysis diagram
exhibition

exhibit at Office for the Arts at Harvard