I’ve been experimenting with converting 3-dimensional surfaces into chainmail style models using Grasshopper. By creating a model that adapts to any 4-sided polyline, and applying that model to each face of a 3-dimensional quad mesh, a repeating, parametric pattern can be generated. If that model had “links” that lined up between cells (meshes), then a chainmail model would result.

So first of all, we need to create a single cell that can be applied to any quad mesh. We need space for each cell to move relative to those around it, and since the quad boundaries are common with the adjacent quads, the main body of the cell must be offset inward from the quad boundary. There is also a “link” on each face of the quad to allow it to interlock with the neighbouring cell. In this case, the link is aligned at an angle to the face. Since each face is developed from the original line segments, the face direction is reversed on opposing sides, and hence the relative orientation of the link is rotated as we traverse the outside faces. This results in the orientation of each link being the opposite of it’s neighbour, allowing them to interlock. This is the basic cell for this demonstration.

Once the cell is determined, it can be applied to a 3 dimensional model. Take this vase shape, for instance…

It can be converted to a quad mesh using the Rhino Quad Remesh command (or in Grasshopper).

The boundaries for each quad can then be fed into the parametric Grasshopper model for a cell. Each quad then has the cell applied according to each individual cell’s geometry, ending up with something like this…

A couple of things I’d still like to try:

- Identify the naked edges and remove the link from those edges.
- Optimise the links between cells - they’re currently not very accurate.
- Apply Kangaroo physics to the model so that the chainmail hangs the way it would in real life.