Crystallon Make Lattices Easy

By on March 1st, 2018 in Software

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 A fancy 3D model lattice generated by Crystallon
A fancy 3D model lattice generated by Crystallon

Crystallon is a new feature for Rhino3D / Grasshopper CAD design that automatically generates lattice structures. 

Lattices are a critical component for the future of 3D printing. Why? Because they create structures that are a) useful, and b) only producible by 3D printing processes. The value equation here is for companies to shift into new products based on “impossible” components produced by 3D printing to raise function and lower costs. 

Thus lattice generation is a very important capability. 

At present there are a few tools to do so, but I ran into one that is entirely free and open source. 

 A 3D printed metal part with lattice generated by Crystallon
A 3D printed metal part with lattice generated by Crystallon

Well, it’s not entirely free. You first have to have an installation of Rhinoceros, a popular 3D CAD tool, to plug it into. And that’s not free. But Crystallon is. 

Crystallon is a product of FATHOM, an advanced manufacturing service that makes considerable use of 3D printing that we’ve written on previously

Crystallon is described as follows:

Crystallon is an open source project for creating lattice structures using Rhino and Grasshopper3D. It was developed at FATHOM ( by Aaron Porterfield as an alternative to commercially available software for lattice design. The obvious advantage is the ability to generate lattice structures within Rhino’s design environment without exporting to 3rd party software, but the extended advantages include the modularity and ability to combine other powerful tools available for Grasshopper3D.

Primitive lattice generation is only part of the solution; the more interesting aspect is when you combine FEA to cause adjustments to the lattice to best match the function required. This is where 3D printing should be headed: lattices for almost everything, to use a minimum amount of material for meeting functional requirements. 

 Crystallon's lattice generation can vary according to shape
Crystallon’s lattice generation can vary according to shape

Crystallon is available for free download at food4Rhino, and is packaged as clusters, not a plugin per se. (A cluster in Rhino is a collection of components.) This positions Crystallon as more of a toolkit than anything else, but that makes sense to me, as it really is a tool for generation of complex lattices. 

Unfortunately, the Crystallon clusters are currently only available for the Windows version of Rhino, but I understand there is some work taking place to also provide a MacOS version. 

If you’re a Rhino (Windows) CAD user, you might want to check out Crystallon to see if you can also generate powerful lattices for your designs. 

Via food4Rhino

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!