Worlds collide: 3D printing experience informs metal sculpting

Dynatorch Super B 4x4 CNC Plasma TableSince I became a full-time artist in 2006, I’ve purchased and used a lot of tools. A lot of tools. If you took the recent video tour of my studio, you see many of them, and yes, I use them all. Using the right tool for the job can mean the difference between a job well done and one that turns out just OK, and the difference between spending hours and committing days to a single task.

Recently, I “moved up” in the world of metal working with a purchase of a Dynatorch Super B 4×4 Plasma CNC table (right). This tool allows me do jobs in an hour that would have taken me days, and does them better. It cuts out the metal accurately and cleanly – no more cutting close, then trimming or grinding to size!

The CNC table is a game changer for me, much like my 3D printers have been.

Interestingly enough, my experience with 3D printing helped me get up to speed on the Super B a lot faster than I would have otherwise ….

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Art takes 3D printing seriously at ASU

3D Systems ProJet 660 3D printerOne of the strongest intersections of art and 3D printing is taking place right here in Phoenix at Arizona State University.

I first encountered Dan Collins, who is a professor of Intermedia in the School of Art as ASU and a co-director of the PRISM lab, an interdisciplinary 3D modeling and rapid prototyping facility.

Dan has been involved in 3D printing for a long time. He was involved with TeleSculpture, which was held in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007, in which artists would simply send in their designs, which would be printed remotely for the show, an incredibly innovative idea, one certainly ahead of its time.

(You can read more about Dan’s activities and involvement by clicking on his name above.)

What Dan and his team have done is amazing ….

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‘You have to do what?!’ – Barriers to 3D printing

Using CAD to design - Kevin CaronAlthough the buzz about 3D printing isn’t as red hot as it was, people are understandably still jazzed about this transformational process.

I see the reactions all the time, whether it’s at a gathering focused on how the process works, how I use it in my practice as a sculptor, or just a bunch of people who are fascinated by 3D printing. What I almost also invariably see is disappointment.

The dirty little secret about 3D printing is that you must have a file that you can print.

That’s easy enough if you are satisfied printing other people’s files, such as ones downloaded from Thingiverse. But what if you want to create something yourself?

Well, at this point in the evolution of 3D printing, you’d better know CAD (Computer Aided Design) software, or know someone who does. That’s what most people don’t realize: 3D printing itself is the culmination of a longer process ….

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How Much Would it Cost to 3D Print These World-Famous Landmarks? [Infographic]

Much is known about the capabilities of 3D printing. From living body parts to high end dining, researchers have developed ways to print a mind-boggling array of objects in the third dimension. But just how far can scientists and tech fans push 3D printing, and could it be used to print buildings, landmarks and other massive objects?

To find out, we tallied up the time and cost of 3D printing the world’s most celebrated landmarks, as well as other structures you’ll no doubt recognize.

3D printing world famous landmarks - TonerGiant

Whether you want to erect Big Ben or the Eiffel Tower in your back garden, it seems 3D printing has a long way to go before it replaces traditional building techniques. That said, 3D printing technologies are emerging at an extraordinary rate, with new variations of the technology hitting the headlines every other day. And with each ground-breaking new development, surely we’re one step closer to printing our own pyramids, Death Stars and star ships?

Don’t forget, the above calculations were based on printing from a standard household 3D printer. Use a 3D printer like this one, and we reckon you could have your own Hogwarts in a fraction of the time — especially if you had two or three of them.

Provided by TonerGiant.co.uk

Sharing 3D-printing possibilities

Some  artists hold their processes close to their vests (where did that expression come from? Who wears a vest anymore? Sorry – mind wandering ….).

I’m not one of them.Arizona Artists Guild logo

I have a large and active YouTube channel with more than 450 videos in which I share metal fabrication and 3D-printing tips. I also have held many events for other artists at my studio and at my home, where I have my 3D printers (the studio is just too dirty – I make dirt there!). I’ve even held events for other artists at my art shows.

So when the Arizona Artists Guild asked me if I’d do a program for the organization’s sculpture group, of which I’m a member, I was glad to do it.

But this time, I decided to do it a little differently ….

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Try, try again with 3D printing

I just can’t help myself.

3D printed Farkle board - Kevin CaronSometimes I just get an idea in my head, and I have to follow it through. Fortunately, 3D printing makes that easy. (Well, easier.)

In this case, it’s that Farkle board that I have come up with yet another design for. The one at the right was my first attempt, which came out pretty well. The black field you see, though, is cloth I added later. That means having to cut it exactly right to fit and gluing it in without dripping glue on the PLA board itself.

Being around or using something always helps me understand it better, or see a better way to design or use it. (That’s why I like to bring home my sculptures – living with them helps give me a new perspective and, I hope, appreciation for them.)

My buddy from the service and his wife were in town recently, so we had a rousing couple of games of the dice game Farkle, whereupon a new design popped into my mind ….

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3D printing museum artifacts bring a fossilized field back from the dead

By Matthew Milstead

Every museum has a shop to entice users to purchase miniature items seen in the exhibits, but with 3D-printing technology, your experience might change for the better. Imagine if you were a child studying dinosaurs in your elementary school class and you had the ability to actually touch a replica of a dinosaur fossil. This is exactly what students who are studying fossils in Melbourne, Australia, are soon going to be able to do. Printing 3D models of actual fossils can open the door for students to get an up-close and personal view of the fossils of the ancient beasts that roamed the earth.

3D Printed Dinosaur Skull

3D-printed dinosaur skull

Seeing Is Believing

When exclusive access to artifacts is limited, it makes it difficult for students who want to learn more about fossils to get a deeper understanding of how a complex bone structure works. 3D printing like Paramate can revolutionize fields that require access to intricate and priceless objects. The process for creating a scan is harmless. With CT and laser scanning, it’s possible to get an exact replica of an item without even touching the artifact.

Scientists can also get a better view of an object without having to resort to a magnifying class. Since the object can easily be scaled larger or smaller, it’s possible to get a replica of an object in the exact form factor needed for analysis. Imagine the ability to scale the skeletal structure of a Brontosaurus to an accurate model that can fit on a desk. This makes it easier to discover any flaws in the construction of the bone structure, and it can make it easier to get a wide view of the fossilized creature. It’s also possible to enlarge smaller specimens to make them easier to review.

Tactile Sensations Improve Analysis

This reduces the risk of damage to priceless fossils, and it allows a more robust hands-on analysis of fossils that were previously too delicate to hold. The ability to interact with fossils has been limited in the past for fear of breaking the fossils. Using a model removes that risk since it’s always possible to print another.

3D-printed T-rex

3D-printed T-rex

Printing Your Favorite Fossils at Home

In addition to the boom that printing fossils can provide to museums, with on-demand printing options it’s possible for museums to increase revenues and generate additional interest with realistic models. A discussion of Australopithecus is no longer limited to two-dimensional slides and images. It’s now possible to print your very own Lucy for use in your classroom or keep in your home.

In 2008, The University of Texas placed Lucy under a CT scanner. The team was able to create a theory about how Lucy died thanks to the models that came about as a result of these scans. The model could be enlarged or shrunk to make it easier to analyze the bones for any evidence of trauma. The result is that the team ended up concluding Lucy died after falling from a 30-foot tree. While some scientists do argue with the results, the ability to have your very own Lucy in your home represents a phenomenal advance in 3D-printing technology.

Choose From a Library of Fossils

The British Geological Service is busy creating a large database that includes thousands of fossils that are held in various collections. Many of the records include 3D models as well. Currently, it’s possible to manipulate these models from within a display case. With the rapid development of 3D printing, however, it may soon be possible to order your favorite fossils for home delivery.

As the technology continues to develop and becomes more affordable, the ability to bring the science class to the homeschool or public school environment will become a reality. As students learn with hands-on models that are created in strikingly authentic detail, the field of 3D printing will improve learning and potentially spur an entire generation of scientists. The implications go beyond fossils, and this technology could be used to help students study anatomy, biology and even get an up-close and personal view of a microbe. It’s hard to believe that printers would end up playing such a huge role in the development of science, but the future is here and it brings the past along with it in excruciatingly accurate detail.

Matthew Milstead is a blogger and writer from Australia interested in and covering topics relating to printing technology, 3D modeling, 3D printing and education. You can contact him on Twitter.

An embarrassment of riches: 3D printing filament options multiply

One of the aspects of being on the leading edge – or as I like to refer to it, the bleeding edge – of a huge movement is watching what you did become history.

That is certainly true about 3D printing.

Liberator 3D printed gunAs important and world-changing as the Internet has been, 3D printing may exceed the Internet’s importance because of the number of industries it has infiltrated.

Part of that has been because the concept of 3D printing – building a three-dimensional object by simply “stacking” 2 dimensional layers on top of one another – has implications for medical, scientific, fashion and other fields as well as art.

We’ve all heard about the gun that was 3D printed, but most people didn’t get beyond the fact that a 3D-printed gun isn’t really practical. (Besides, I’m really tired of hearing about that damn gun!)

Yes, people are already 3D printing in metal, biomaterials and other specialty filaments – heck, even I have printed in bronze – but we seem to have moved into a new era ….

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3D printing contributes to evolution of form

Limoncello Prima, a 3D printed fine art sculpture - Kevin Caron

Sometimes I just start creating, as I am doing with a metal sculpture in my studio right now.

Sometimes I design in CAD (which is how I got into 3D printing in the first place!) and then create the form in metal or resin.

And sometimes a sculpture evolves as it is created. That’s exactly what happened with a recent artwork, 50 Years of Limoncello.

Well, it really began with a call for an art show in New York. The show, “The HeART of Italy,” celebrates the spirit, history, people and places of that romantic land, where I spent time a couple of years ago.

Thinking about my time in Italy, I decided to use some of that luscious translucent yellow PLA filament to create a sculpture to submit to the show.

What I didn’t anticipate – but surely embraced – was how the artwork evolved. But then, that’s part of the beauty of creating art ….

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Using a 3D printer to refine a design

Creating isn’t always a one-shot process.

When I first conceived my 3D filament sizing set up, the bent piece of metal through which the filament ran to ensure there were no lumps that could jam the 3D printer seemed a simple yet elegant solution.

After using it for a while – and catching my coat on it, as you’ll hear about in the video – I realized there was a better way ….

This video explains what I came up with and how I used my 3D printer to create, then refine the design: