Now here's a really cool project where netfabb was involved.
Coral reefs belong to the most fascinating underwater phenomena. However, there are many threats to this kind of fragile ecosystem, and one way to preserve them is the construction of artificial reefs. In his thesis, James Gardiner examines a potential new link between constructed reefs and construction 3D printing as described in this world-first research project.
Read more: James B. Gardiner, "Exploring the Emerging Design Territory of Construction 3D Printing – Project Led Architectural Research", RMIT (2011)
3D printed reefs represent an ideal use case of microstructuring which can imitate complex, organic topologies efficiently in terms of material, meaning less material and weight and an increased surface area. And don't forget the nice look!
Some excerpts from Gardiner's paper:
"Netfabb™ was used for boolean operations and for generating .stl files [...] and Netfabb™ Selective Space Structures™ was used for the generation of the internal panel geometry. (p. 268) The main benefit of using the Netfabb™ software was for the creation of internal geometries within the panels of the Roccia assembly and for the generation of the deep scaffold for the (in)human habitat project." (p. 348)
"This surface roughness was created intentionally by experimenting with .stl file export functions (tesselation) within the Netfabb™ software. [...] Surface texture, as discussed in chapter (6.2.1), in the form of uneven and rough surfaces are the easiest for coral polyps and other sessile (stationary) marine life to attach themselves to. Providing these surface types aids the colonisation of the reef by these marine creatures." (p. 329)
Summary: "The projects presented in the case studies have shown that the choice of software tools for a project has a significant effect on the quality of the digital definition generated. Scale, purpose, functionality and output required have all been identified as being critical to the choice of digital design tools and the outcome produced. One of the major issues for digital design for construction 3D printing is identified as the ability to efficiently and effectively perform boolean operations." (p. 348)