HP Labs

Zachary Ziebell, a rare winter intern at HP Labs

January 22, 2019

An example of a multicolored, multi-material 3D-printed object.

An example of a multicolored, multi-material 3D-printed object.

Zachary Ziebell joins HP Labs on a rare winter internship this month and next. A dual fifth-year senior at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and Brown University, Ziebell is majoring in both painting and symbolic systems, which combines computer science, cognitive science, and philosophy. He grew up outside San Antonio, Texas and in his spare time enjoys drawing, painting, and hiking.

 

HP: What are you working on during your internship?

I’m working on two projects in the Immersive Experiences Lab. The first continues some work I’ve been doing with a medical student at Brown. He was looking for a way to make a high-resolution mold of a brain that we could use to cast high quality, affordable gelatin brains. These have the density of actual brains and can be used for things like modeling concussive impacts or as demos for surgical students to practice on. So over the summer we scanned a brain and here I've been trying to work out how to make a high quality 3D printed mold from it.

HP: What’s the big challenge there?

Because of the unique folds inside the brain, it’s very difficult to create a mold where you don’t destroy the “brain” when you remove it. We also want to model some interior structures of the brain such as the ventricles which come out from the base, something people haven’t been able to do so far in an affordable way. Our second version of the mold is being printed right now on a state-of-the-art HP 3D printer, so I’m excited to see how it comes out.

HP: How about your other project?

I’ve been using 3D printers over the last few years to make things like nostalgic video game characters and then combining them with jewelry and other materials. People seem really into it, so I’m now trying to establish a theoretical basis for why these creations are appealing. My thesis essentially proposes that just as photography changed our ideas about what deserves to be made into an image, so multicolored, multi-material 3D printing combined with techniques like 3D scanning and neural networking are changing our notions of what material aesthetic objects can and should be.

My thesis essentially proposes that just as photography changed our ideas about what deserves to be made into an image, so multicolored, multi-material 3D printing combined with techniques like 3D scanning and neural networking are changing our notions of what material aesthetic objects can and should be.

Zachary Zeibell, HP Labs intern

HP: Are you looking to create a research paper or a set of objects during your internship?

Both, really. I’m hoping to propose what sorts of objects people will want to place in their homes or wear on their bodies, and also make some prototypes while I’m here. I think they’ll have a lot to do with the data that surrounds us – photos, media, and even biometric data that get synthesized into unique and customizable physical objects.

HP: How did you hear about HP Labs?

The library at Brown has a maker space which has allowed me to experiment with color 3D printing a lot. Then last year, I did more 3D work in a senior honors interdisciplinary class at RISD and the professor, Samuel Yates, told me about HP Labs and a former student of his, Alex Ju, who now works here. So I applied to be an intern and here I am, working with Alex.

HP: Have you worked in an industrial lab before?

No, but I really like it. I do feel like a little bit of a black sheep because I'm definitely not an engineer. I'm not very good at making things more efficient or wiring things together, but what I think I am good at is finding ways of using the things that engineers make in ways that they didn't anticipate and that other people don't anticipate. I love getting the opportunity to experiment with all this technology and I feel like the immersive experiences team really understands where I’m coming from in my approach to 3D printing.

HP: Is the internship impacting how you are thinking about your next move?

Definitely. I had kind of given up on the idea of being involved with any kind of tech company because I didn’t see a place where I could feel at home, so I was going to go fully into art. But it's really refreshing to be working in this lab setting and I could see myself working in the discipline of human-computer interaction in the future, especially if I can bring my interests in philosophy and human cognition into my work.