Your Introduction to 3D Printing Magic



by E.S.P., Nov 15. 2012

First, let me tell you this: What we are seeing done with 3D Printing today is nothing, compared to what’s to come. And if you don’t believe me, here is a concurring opinion by an expert, the late Arthur C. Clarke: “If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run – and often in the short one – the most daring prophecies seem laughably conservative.”

Torolf 2.jpg

This is what Torolf Sauermann designed using TopMod, an open source 3D topological mesh modeling system, and then 3D Printed. Pretty awesome, no?

Have a look at Fonda Yoshimoto‘s work… For example, “Blossom”:

Porcelain casts from 3D-printed prototypes.

“Touch, Scratch, Bind,” with lithophane tiles.

Inspired by this wonderful new tool for artistic expression, British artist Luke Jerram goes from this:

to that:

His take? “I had a place at college to study engineering but decided to go to art college instead. I’m interested in how the world works and is made which applies to both artist’s and scientist’s interests.”

Nick Ervinck featured in “Materialise”: “Creating New Worlds with 3D Printing: Nick Ervinck’s Fantastic Works of Art”

Nick Ervinck, a rising star in the art world, masterfully explores the borders between various media and tries to find an interaction between virtual constructions and hand-made sculptures. Through his sculptures, videos, prints and digital drawings, he creates fantastic new realities which challenge viewers to take a fresh look at the world around them. One medium that Ervinck has employed with great skill is 3D Printing, and for some of his most intricate printed creations, he turns to the experts at Materialise to help him bring his visions to life.

SNIBURTAD and Nick Ervinck at the Gallo-Romeins Museum in TongerenSNIBURTAD and Nick Ervinck at the Gallo-Romeins Museum in Tongeren.

Nick Ervinck’s collaboration with Materialise began in 2008 with the sculpture GNIURKS_S. Since then, Ervinck has been pushing the boundaries of 3D Printing and challenging the company’s engineers with his intricate designs. In 2009, his sculpture, IKRAUSIM, took part in the Fantastic illusions exhibition in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai, China. In addition to the sculpture, visitors to the exhibition could view an animation that travelled through the piece, the effect of which drew people even further into Nick Ervinck’s complex, exciting world.

Architecture Source asked the following question, which equally valid for art and architecture: “Is 3D Printing Taking the Artistry out of Architecture?” (Or for that matter, out of art?) Hardly!  The answer was thoughtful and to the point, so here it is in its entirety:

3D Organic structure

When we posed the question ‘is technology creating lazy architecture’, we had no idea it would spark such profound responses or such highly intelligent debate, leading us to come to the realisation that CAD and BIM are only one tool under architects’ and designers’ belts.

One technological element that is truly hitting its stride in the architecture sector is that of 3D printing. While CAD and BIM allow architects and designers to draw and create using a computer, 3D printing takes these exact, computer-developed plans and prints them as is.

The absolute exactness of this architectural development medium means speed and precision are high on the list of positive elements associated with 3D printing. There is no level of human error involved and exact specifications can be tested in miniature form.

It is this lack of the human element, however, that provokes the question: could 3D printing take the artistry out of architecture design?

According to Yale School of Architecture dean Rober A. M. Stern, the personal, tactile nature of design development is paramount in his works.

3D Printing Architecture

“I personally still make little drawings and I like to use sculptors modeling clay, which I was introduced to by Louis Kahn who used it,” says Stern. “But it goes back in the architectural terms tradition in art terms in general to the tradition of sculpture.  And I like to shape things, and mush them around, and play with shapes.”

While 3D printing is precise and highly efficient, it is still imperfect. Small details are often lost in the printing process, with delicate features easily snapped off. In its defense, however, the latter point could also be said for hand-developed modeling.

3D printing can, however, allow architects the liberty of making mistakes without leaving them to face the consequences of a tedious complete model redevelopment. The mistake can be amended through the software program and the model can be quickly reprinted.

Herein lies the key point upon which many of our readers have agreed; technology is a tool. Just because writers now use computers instead of pen and paper does not mean that literary greatness is gone. The implementation of modern technology into any of our sectors means elements of tasks presented to us are simpler and can be completed more efficiently. This brings with it the downside that when approached by the lazy or mediocre, results can still be achieved even if they are not particularly groundbreaking.

Like nearly everything in life, it comes down the individual. For motivated and talented architects, technology only aids their artistry. It is when those who capitalise on the ease created by various technologies that the industry becomes less than it could be and cities begin to take on a dull and monotonous aesthetic.

What we cannot forget is that this industry will, for the most part, be safeguarded from a proliferation of truly terrible design, the reason being that if an architect presents a truly unfeasible, unattractive design,  it will look just as bad whether  it’s sculpted out of diamonds or printed from a 3D printer.”

To sum things up, as 3D and Tech Convergence researcher Dr Annenberg recently wrote: “The clear conclusion of looking at 3D Printed art is simple: In the hands of the artist, 3D Printing is nothing more than a tool among many possible other tools. However, in the hand of a gifted creator, 3D Printing is a tool that reminds us of Arthur C. Clarke famous remark: ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’. To which we could add another thing he said: ‘The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible’. Which is precisely the calling of our time.”

That’s a  great call to action. So let’s do it!

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