Bubbles Minimal Surface Parametric

Adaptive Strategies & Precedent Research

Bubble/ Minimal Surface mathmetic and Bio-System

Early stage, I studied bubbles form with a partner, Yidan Gong. Later on, we develope project individually.

Dynamic Model

When surfactants are present, bubbles are concentrated at the surface. At low concentration, they make a two dimensional gas and exert a lateral pressure in the interface, and so reduce the surface tension or the surface energy.

I wanted to create the reaction of tension in the model. When an external factor react on the surface, the surface would toggle. It shows how tension on the minimal surface happened. The bubble characteristics of bouncy, light weight, and structual efficiency shows in the model.

Using Rhino, I created a model of bubble membrane reacting to external interference. The tension of membrane has the characteristics of flexibility and lightness.Then, I Powder printed the model to see how well can the natural tension of bubble membrane be translated with another material. Here, the printed model is very smooth and delicate.

This model is made in Rhino.
Powder bed and 3D Inkjet Head Print.

Soap Film

I am interested in exploring the qualities of soap film, dipping a frame in soap solution and create area-minimizing minimal surfaces. I want to translate the bubble surface tension to a physical experience, playing with materials, light,transparency, reflection, and tension.

Looking at the membrane tension formed in soap film.

1st Concept Iteration

Bubble’s flexible roundness give me the sense of protection and comfort. I want to translate my bubble experience to an physical experience with elements of protection, comfort, flexibility, scale, light weight, translucent, maze, structure.At the experience, visitor is surrounded by soft material that adapt to his body form.

Material Experiments

To create tension quality of minimal surface in soap film, I decided to play with weaving technique, using Addi Express Knitting Machine.

Here I experimented weaving with cotton strings and monofilament line. The weaved cotton strings tend to get loose after stretching it. Oppostily, the weaved monofilament line has the tendency to return to its original shape after it has been stretched, which is the quality I wanted.

Using the weaved material as the structure form, I applied smooth quality of rubber silicone to the structure. Both material structure became more firm after they were dried up. However cotton weaved structure was structured in one permanent and the weaved monofilament line was flexible and stretchable without creating surface crack. I confirmed to use the monofilament line with rubber silicone.

Soak weaved cotton twine and weaved monofilament line in rubber silicone.
I like the cleanness, transparent, strechable qualities of the monofilament line mixing with rubber silicone.

2nd Concept Iteration

Here I thought about how can I present the tension quality in an experience better, using the weaving technique.

I was interested in the idea of creating a maze-like space where visitor experiences light coming through the structures and structure shadows projecting on the floor. Walking through the installation, the visitor can physically interact with the structures by stretching them and feeling the tensions.


Rubber silicone was too expensive for the quantity I need to use. I experimented Tub & Tile Silicone with the monofiliment line. However, the Tub & Tile Silicone was too thick and rough. I decided to continue using Silicone Mold Making Rubber.

I am experimenting with substituting Silicone Mold Making Rubber (far left photo) with rubber silicone to Tub & Tile Silicone (far right photo). However, the Tub & Tile Silicone is too thick and rough.

While weaving the mono filament line with the machine, I found difficulties in controlling the weaving quality. I realized the I had to tighten the line when weaving to prevent line tangling.

During the weaving process, the lines are tangled often.

Final Concept

To spend less expense on materials, I decided to scope down the project. The installation was designed to be two 10 feet long adaptable knitted structures that interact with each other, each having it’s own character

Structure Planning

To make the structure stronger, I considered 3D printing ribs to support the form. There would be intersections for the rings and the ribs.However, the estimation of the structure is 10 feet long. It is highly possible that the ribs would break. In stead of using ribs to control its form, I decided to just have the rings and control the its from by pulling the structure sideways with the monofilamet line.

Material Test

I tested the applying behaviors on the small size sample.Having different ring shapes for the structure looked messy and did not affectively create the tension quality. I decided to be consistent with circular rings ,but with different sizes. There were three ring sizes to create a more dynamic structure, however, only two ring sizes (diameter: 7.5 inch and 8.5 inch) could fit the circumference of the weaved monofilament line.

Final file cut out.

Final Material

30 Pound Monofilament line

The 20 pound monofilament line tangle easily when weaving and it is too thin to form solid structure. I decided to use 30 pound monofilament line to form stronger structure.

Silicone Mold Making Rubber

Rubber silicone has clean and half transparent qualities, work seemlessly with monofilament line. The new material is stretchable without forming cracks.

1/4 Inch Clear Acrylic Board

1/4 inches thickness is strong enough to support the hanging structure. The clear quality allows light to pass through.

4 Inch Cable Ties

The Cables Ties ties the acrylic rings to the long filament line structure. They add a dynamic quality to the installation, enhancing the idea of two structure interacting with each other.

Installation Iterations

Here I was exploring the iterations of structures in Rhino.

3D Model in Context

I photoshoped one of the 3D iteration I made at final show space to imagine the model in context.

The Installation locates in Great Hall in College of Fine Arts, Carnegie Mellon University.

Making Process

I hand weaved sections of weaved monofilament line together. Then inserted the rings in the stocking with 1 feet distant in-between.
Here I poured rubber silicone on the stocking and let it dry overnight.

Final Presentation

This is the final presentation located at Great Hall in College of Fine Arts, Carnegie Mellon University.


The sculpture looks like a living insect when position on the floor. It looks like it can be crawling. I am interested to think about how to make it a living thing by allowing it to stand up on its own and make it reactive.