Alien forces invade 3D print

As-yet-untitled 3D printed sculpture - Kevin CaronCrazy things happen with 3D printing, especially with my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer.

As Steve Graber, who built this monster, has said, whatever this printer does, it does spectacularly. That definitely includes surprises like the “slubs” on my sculpture Love and Marriage, which are explainable, and recent moments like the time the print head decided to print a foot to the left of the print bed.

The most recent and as-yet-unexplainable oddity – or, as it’s called in the art world, “artifact” – is what it did to a print I just finished ….

A maquette, or model, for a possible commission, this recent sculpture was printed in two sections then fit together.

I created 1 file, then sliced it and printed each piece. (I won’t go into the fact here that it took 5 times to get the second section to print – that’s another story.)

3D printed sculpture being printed - Kevin CaronThe file was the same, the slicing was the same, but I printed the first section using Simplify 3D as the host program and the second section using MatterHackers software on one of that company’s minitablets (I love MatterHackers, BTW – great company that really stands behind their products!).

So tell me, then, why did the second section print differently? I still haven’t figured it out.

To an unobservant eye, the difference is subtle, but the result has a huge influence on the sculpture’s appearance. That being said, “happy accidents” like this are part of what makes art-making so fascinating. Yes, I could trash the second section and try to print a new one, but honestly, I like the way it looks.

What is the difference? The pieces were designed 18″ long, 12″ wide and 1″ high with straight walls. The second section, though, is canted at an angle the length of the piece (photo, right). Fortunately, the interior supports are also angled, and the look is quite beautiful.

When I slipped the two pieces together, however, the angle of the second one did not allow me to make the two pieces flush as originally designed. This added some complexity to the sculpture that it would not otherwise have.

Could I reproduce it, though?

That’s the million dollar question. I may find out, but for now, I can only wonder why the second print of the same file came out so differently ….

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