Archive for August 2014

The Gigante gets (more) real

Yes, I’m still waiting for the Gigante, the 3D printer that can print something 5 feet tall. (The printer itself will be 8 feet tall.)

But, like most adventures on the bleeding edge, it’s still on its way. At least now we are seeing that it’s taking shape ….

steve graber, 3D printer, 3D printing, gigante 3D printer

Steve Graber – who is 6’2″ – standing inside the Gigante frame.

















In the background, you can see a BfB Rapman 3.2 printer, which, Graber says, “was the original printer that started me down the 3D printing rabbit hole.”

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Is it art, or is it a print?

The subject always comes up when you mention 3D printing and art in the same sentence.

“Is it art if you printed it on a 3D printer?”

The answer is another question: “Is photography art?” Which leads to the realization that 3D printing, like a camera, is just a tool. Sometimes it makes art, and sometimes it doesn’t. That seems pretty simple.

As I work with 3D printing, though, I realize that there is more nuance to this question.

Lately I’ve been working on a series of 3D-printed sculptures. I will be offering them for sale, and they are clearly in a different category than original artwork that is created by hand.

Or are they? Again, the answer isn’t so obvious.

Yes, once I get my forms printed the way I want them, I will be able to print multiples. But right now, I’m still playing with materials, sizes and construction methods, because there are a number of ways to create the structure.

So at this point, every piece is unique. That means they aren’t production pieces, like photographic or fine art prints, or even bronzes. Someday they will be, but right now, each piece I create is an individual piece of art created with a tool called a 3D printer.

The Gigante is …. coming!

For several months now, I’ve been champing at the big to receive the giant delta-style 3D printer that Steve and Jacob Graber are making for me. It’s called the Gigante for good reason.

How giant is it? The printer itself is 8 feet tall. It will print an item 5 feet tall and 34 inches in diameter.

(The joke is that I can print my assistant, who is also known as The Voice in my videos. She is small but mighty, and I wouldn’t mind having more than one of her around.)

I just heard today that the Gigante is almost ready. Steve sent some photos and a note:

Some parts for the 8-foot-tall GIgante 3D printer

Steve explains, “Here are photos of the hotend platform and one of the vertical carriages for GIGANTE. These are PLA plastic for the time-being until I can get the aluminum ones CNC’d at the machine shop. That will happen hopefully before the end of the month. But these 3D printed ones will work great in the interim to get the GIGANTE delivered, they just aren’t a permanent set.”

I hope to take delivery next week.  You can bet you’ll hear – and see – more about this printer.

‘Hmmm, will plastic do that?’

It’s been fun playing with an entirely different material than the metal I’m used to  in the form of the ABS and PLA plastics that most 3D printers use.

My CubeX 3D printer seems to prefer ABS, while the Cerberus 3D printer seems to work better with PLA.

Both, obviously, are a lot different that working with steel. Increasingly, I am playing with the possibilities of forms I can create in plastic that would be impossible in metal.

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The joys – and surprises – of physical manifestation

After a little adjustment to the Cerberus printer that the Grabers loaned me, I’m printing again. Steve and Joseph Graber, who build these open-source design printers, have been wonderful to work with.

I appreciate having the opportunity to get familiar with this delta style printer and the software, which is very different from that I use with my CubeX printer, especially because there’s a 3D art show coming up soon at the Shemer Art Center, and I want to submit several sculptures.

Accordingly, I have begun printing some of the designs I’ve created in CAD. It’s amazing to be able to see and handle these sculptures rather than just look at the drawings. Even though I can rotate the drawings in my CAD program, actually seeing them in their physical state is vastly different, even if the sculptures aren’t 9 feet tall, as I first conceived them.

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The democratization of art through 3D printing?

A recent Fast Company story about the recreation of Marcel Duchamp’s long-lost chess set poses the idea that 3D printing could allow “the masses” (that’s regular folks) to enjoy otherwise unaffordable art.

While I’m not Marcel Duchamp, I’ve realized this opportunity also applies to my creations.

As my work goes up in price, people who would like to own one of my sculptures are increasingly priced out of doing so. Being able to print versions of my pieces opens up a world of possibilities for both original 3D-printed designs such as Holy Cannoli and reproductions of existing sculptures.

The latter will be coming soon in a line I’m calling Progeny to differentiate the pieces from original sculpture. I’ll be using new materials and colors, but the cost will be affordable so people who’d like to own some of my work can.

I’ll be introducing my Progeny line before the end of the year, so stay tuned ….