Scherk in Clay

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This innocent minimal surface, which can be obtained from Heinrich Scherk’s traditional surface by adding two wings and bending them towards each other, poses interesting challenges when printed (vertically, i.e. rotated by 90 degrees) in clay. First of all, there are three horizontal cross sections which look like branches of hyperbolas (but aren’t, not even for the original Scherk surface, in contrast what Wikipedia currently claims).

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When printing this layer by layer, the nozzle has to move from branch to branch, and as the printer can’t stop printing while it skips across, it leaves hairy artifacts.

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They clearly have their own charme.

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Another problem arises from the saddle points that are printed without support. This leads to other imperfections and sometimes structural complications that might take away from the elegance of the original surface but contribute to wild interior landscapes.

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Watching the printer work for two hours is dramatic, because failure in the form of collapsing walls can happen any minute.

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