Italian design studio MHOX releases intricate 3D printed exoskeleton facemasks
Many people consider 3D printing technology to be a futuristic manufacturing technology, so its hardly surprising that artists and designers are using it to imagine what the future will look like. While that has resulted in some gorgeous creations already, the Italian design studio MHOX are using high-def 3D printers to take us to an absolutely fascinating dystopian future.
As can be seen in the photos above, designers Filippo Nassetti and Alessandro Zomparelli transport us to a far-away stage in mankind’s evolutionary process, where our bodies become partially encased in carapaces (or exoskeletons) that serve as protective plates that also take over basic body functions such as hearing, smelling and seeing. Their project is called Carapace, and has already resulted in a series of 3D facial masks that partially or even wholly cover your face. And the good news is that you can even get your hands on one yourself.
This Carapace Project is very impressive, but fits in the typical style of the MHOX design studio. Based in Bologna and Modena, Italy, its designers are known for developing futuristic body extensions and objects. In their own words, these try to ‘integrate the human body to mutate its aesthetic and functional potential.’ Founded in 2012, keywords to describe their style could include body alteration, mutation and metamorphosis, and therefore takes us in an unorthodox, though very interesting direction.
Their latest CARAPACE PROJECT is similarly interested in the metamorphosis of the human body through bio-digital synthesis, prosthetics and customization. ‘Contemporary scientific and technological research are changing the way man relates to his body. Synthetic biology, advanced prosthetics, biohacking let imagine future scenarios of physical transformation and redefinition, aesthetic and performative,’ the duo describes on their webpage.
In their (dystopian) vision, mankind evolves to incorporate rigid elements into their bodies that are reminiscent of crustaceans and insects. "The masks collection Carapace is inspired by this vision: fossils of a possible future, once worn these objects blur the limit between natural extension and artificial prosthesis."
To produce these impressive masks, the pair of designers have developed what they call an ‘integrated framework’ consisting of 3D scanning of facial features, the data of which will then be used to make form-fitting 3D printed exoskeletons. This has been used to create a very impressive high end line of products, consisting of the two masks Mater Vidiam and Mater Audiam. Both are named after the functions they purportedly reflect (Vidiam means ‘I will see’ and Adiam means ‘I will hear’).
In both cases, the patterns are inspired by the microstructure of crustaceans’ and insects’ exoscheletons, and subsequently 3D printed in locally produced materials called Windform LX 2.0 and GT. These are polyamide-based materials that have been reinforced with glass fibers. The result? Gorgeous and beautifully-finished face masks that look to be handcrafted.
Alternatively, there is also ‘Replica’ that also consist of the Vidiam and Adiam masks, but then produced with more affordable materials. Both replica masks are standard fits 3D printed in white and translucent nylon materials, and therefore might not fit properly. However, even this line is quite expensive, as each mask costs €720 (shipping is free). In contrast, no price is listed for the high end line. And if this style is really your thing, the Italian duo also offers the SARTORIA CARAPACE option, in which they develop carapace pieces for whatever part of your anatomy you desire.