perhaps my single most specialized skill is a parametric modeling program called Grasshopper. It is a plugin for the CAD program Rhinoceros, and among certain circles it has a proven track record as a prized tool for exploring three-dimensional space.
my small 3D printing company, doublehead.digital, produces products made almost exclusively with Grasshopper; the software gives a designer the ability to visually "program" an object. This means that, for instance, I can program the design for a planter and then tweak the wall thicknesses after the design is complete in order to do a round of prototyping. In this way, Grasshopper can be the ideal companion tool for the rapid prototyping process enabled by the magic of 3D printing.
on many of the other pages on this site you might see these odd images similar to the ones on this page; these are screenshots of the Grasshopper programs being used to create the particular project you are looking at!
i've long cherished a running obsession with the planet Mars. This is a Grasshopper program which produces a topographical globe of the planet from a NASA image, which you can see stored in the visual program above.
my lattice lamp is an excellent example of the prototyping process enabled by Grasshopper. See above and to the right the series of six text cubes that were used to determine the ideal lattice parameters (thickness vs density, etc) before final production. Below you can see a detailed view of how Grasshopper works; information in the form of text, numbers, and most importantly, geometry, is passed from 'compnonent' to 'component,' left to right. at the end, the 3D mesh produced by the file is tested for integrity.
as mentioned above, Grasshopper proves valuable in the design of planters. The parametric nature of the program is perfectly suited to prototyping functional, water-carrying objects!
during the Modulon Project, Grasshopper was once again crucial in visualizing complicated mathematical art pieces.
seen here is a sculptural form too complex to print (green), as well as the original mesh for the red piece seen at the page linked above.