When it comes to creating complex, optimized structures, nature has always been in a class of its own. A spider web, bird bones, a silkworm cocoon—these organic structures typify the wondrous shapes achieved by nature, the beauty of simplicity, and the ideal marriage of material preservation and functionality.

Owing to tooling requirements, assembly limitations and the economic barriers of customization, these types of complex structures have often proven elusory in traditional manufacturing. As a byproduct, designers are forced to align their creations with a limited range of possible outcomes, rather than stretch past these manufacturing constraints.

3D printing has changed the landscape of design and opened up new fields of possibility in design and engineering, finally making it possible to mimic the perfection that Mother Nature has achieved for so long.

“With 3D technology, we can express forms only found in nature,” says 3DS Senior Creative Fellow Janne Kyttanen, who’s just designed and 3D printed a stunning lounger chair that borrows from the spider web by using minimal material with maximized strength.

Janne’s lounger was built in a single build on the ProX 950 SLA 3D printer by Quickparts, 3D Systems' cloud-based manufacturing service. Chosen for its top-notch precision and large build volume, the ProX 950 was able to make the complex lounger in a matter of days. Many industries, including automotive, aerospace and medical device manufacturing, rely on Quickparts and use the ProX 950 to make huge, beautifully accurate parts with a level of complexity that can’t be duplicated in traditional manufacturing.

The lounger is just a start. Imagine what we could achieve in engineering when complexity is no longer an issue. “How much material would we be able to save from products and building materials if we could manufacture like this?” asks Janne. “There’s a whole range of benefits we can’t even fathom today.”

Check out this video to see how Janne’s lounger is borrowing from nature’s engineering expertise to elegantly unite form and function.