More than Human Centred Design


Siloseam: A Morphogenetic Workflow for the Design and Fabrication of Inflatable Silicone Bladders

Silicone is an incredibly useful and versatile design material. It has excellent heat-resistant properties, is flexible and soft, and is a skin-safe material making it an excellent candidate for many wearable applications. Bladders, or airtight structures, is one potential silicone form used in soft robotics and shape-changing interfaces. The process for making these bladders is time-consuming, error-prone, and non-conducive to designerly workflows. We will demonstrate a design tool that supports creating 3D models for 3D-printed molds and introduce a 20-minute fabrication workflow that will allow you to experiment with a variety of silicone bladder forms.

Who is the target audience and why design for them? This demo is targeted at designers and researchers with some digital fabrication capabilities (a 3D printer, a vinyl cutter) interested in experimenting with shape-changing interfaces, soft robotics, and other types of expressive wearables. This work is aimed to lower the barriers around designing and fabricating silicone forms – we view this audience at the boundary of transforming silicone into an everyday design material.

What were the challenges or limitations encountered in this project? We ran into many fabrication and design errors – from the common air bubble defect, misconfigured tolerances and merging air chambers. We took this at an opportunity to create an error typology and steps to recover from these errors in order to create a more resilient silicone practice.

What are the opportunities and next steps for this project? We only explored 1 part molds, but more complex forms are possible. Interfacing silicone with other materials is also particularly difficult – developing guidelines for attaching and configuring silicone with other materials can greatly expand its design potentials. The bladder fabrication technique has many parallels to textile form-building techniques. We see potential in formally extending textile techniques as well as creating on body pneumatic actuator systems for designing expressive wear, accessibility, and haptic feedback systems.

To the Demo Visitors: We are especially interested in building a silicone-centric design repository. We will be continuously adding examples to our Github repository (https://github.com/The-Hybrid-Atelier/siloseam) and welcome your contributions. Our tool, design files, videos, and tutorials (Instructables) are available online at https://github.com/The-Hybrid-Atelier/siloseam.