Archive for 3D printed sculpture

Back to the future: up and running

Amethyst City, a large format 3D printed sculpture - Kevin CaronThe last six weeks have been a whirlwind. That’s part of my life as a sculptor, especially at this time of year.

I attended the Codasummit in El Paso, Texas, in early October, sharing more information about my work with large-scale 3D printing, then geared up for the 2019 Camelback Studio Tour, for which I really needed to have my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante running.

The 6 weeks the Gigante was down just prior to that was a bit heart-stopping.

My backup plan was to bring out my Cerberus 3D 400 and have it running during the 3 days of the show, but it wouldn’t have been the optimum. I was on TV a lot (Channels 3, 5, 7 and 10 here in metro Phoenix) to promote the show, and the 400 just doesn’t have the visual impact of the Gigante! That proved true as a number of visitors came just to see it running.

I printed 3 sculptures during the show, one each day. Two made the cut, while one had a weak start – the filament drooped unattractively – so it didn’t survive, but the other 2, Solar Conundrum, a translucent yellow of my solid style, and Amethyst City (right, in a temporary photo), a spectacular new piece in my new “cubist” style, came out beautifully.

But that’s not all! … Read More →

‘This has never happened before’ yet again ….

Since my last post I’ve gotten this much printed:

Yes, nothing. Nothing except frustration and fails.

3D print fail - Kevin CaronAfter many days and hours of troubleshooting – Steve Graber was here so many hours (15? 20?) over 5 days that I offered him our spare bedroom – he and I narrowed down the problem to a bad motor.

Yes, of the 3 motors that run the Cerberus 3D Gigante, one had decided to no longer count steps, one way only, though.

Our first, oh, dozen or so hours of troubleshooting didn’t even touch the problem, which was causing every print to thin out one one side. At first we thought the bed wasn’t level, but after several attempts at leveling it using 2 different probes, it became clear that wasn’t the problem.

Finally we heard a slight variation in the motor sound when it neared one particular side. We also remembered that the last print I’d done, the large version of my 3D printed sculpture Ruby, had printed oddly at the bottom. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t use the print, but I knew I’d have to account for the lopsided bottom when I printed its base. I just couldn’t get that base to print, though.

So the problem had preceded all the work and improvements I’d just spent a lot of money on.

Steve rewired the motors to see if it could be the wiring, proving that it was indeed the motor.

Well, it better be: a new one just cost $300. Steve notified the motor manufacturer, who said, “We’ve never heard of this.” (They have now.)

It’s now been a month since I’ve been able to print, but I think we’ve got it.

Nonetheless, pray for me, and the printer! And stay tuned ….

Beautiful variations in 3D printing breakthrough

Top of a 3D printed sculpture - Kevin Caron Now that I’ve stumbled into this amazing new look with 3D printing I’m playing with the nuances.

Some I can control – the color and type of filament (type only if I’m printing on my Cerberus 3D 400 – it can handle a lot of different types because of its ability to print at a higher temperature than the other 2) – and, of course, the shape of the design itself.

What I’m discovering so far, though, is that there is a wonderful randomness about how the technology affects the appearance of the sculptures.

That’s easy to see when you look at 3 different prints (right), all the same form but different heights. The difference between them is striking and also extremely exciting.

I love that the process, which is such an integral part of my work – not just how I make my sculptures, but part of their intrinsic look – is speaking so loud and clear ….

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Breakthrough: ‘playing around’ leads to intriguing visual development

Detail of 3D printed sculpture Looking In - Kevin CaronI learn by doing. Yes, I also research, read, watch videos and gain knowledge in other ways, but mostly I play and push beyond what I already know to learn more.

A lot of my sculptures, such as Knot Me and subsequent artworks based on what I learned from tipping a trefoil knot on one corner, are a result of “I wonder what will happen if I do this ….”

That very sort of “following my curiosity,” as author Elizabeth Gilbert calls it, is what has led to one of the most exciting developments I’ve encountered yet in 3D printing.

As you know, if you’ve read this blog or watched my site, Instagram or Facebook for any time, I’ve been using 3D printing to create sculptures for about 5 years. I’ve enjoyed developing my own style of flowing, sometimes twisting and even angular forms, some of which are near to if not impossible to make in metal.

But this latest development, the result of playing with settings, is creating an entirely new look for my sculptures …. Read More →

The CubeX is dead; long live the 400

My first 3D printer was a 3D Systems CubeX. I found out about it through the company that makes Alibre, the CAD software I use most often. I figured, “If they recommend this machine, it must work well with Alibre.”

3D Systems Cubex 3D printer

It took several months to get the machine, and I jumped right into using it. Although it could supposedly print in three colors, I never mastered that. I did, though, get a lot of use out of the CubeX, especially using ABS filament ….

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Fascinating finishes – 3D printed surface a blank slate

Twilight, a 3D printed fine art sculpture - Kevin CaronI love the strong colors 3D-printed resin creates. I really geek out on the translucents, of course – check out my 3D-printed sculptures to see how many times I’ve used translucent yellow, red, blue and purple filament because I love how they interact with light.

Yet I’m not afraid to cover the surface of a 3D-printed sculpture.

I did just that with Oculum, which has an antique brass patina. In that case, I had to address the sculpture’s surface because the design required supports during printing, and I have yet to figure out how to remove all evidence of them. That led to some “body work” (shades of my days as a mechanic!), which I then covered with the patina.

I’ve painted my 3D-printed sculptures, too. A good example is Night Sky, for which I just used rattle can paints.

But lately, I painted a couple of sculptures with a new finish that really excites me ….

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Metal filler works wonders with ABS filament

An as-yet-untitled 3D printed fine art sculpture by Phoenix artist Kevin Caron.Since I moved my 3D Systems CubeX 3D printer down to the studio, I’ve been able to play with it while I’m in the office cooling down – Arizona summers are really brutal when you work with fire and wear heavy protective gear. The CubeX gives me another way to play that keeps me under 1000 degrees.

One reason I hang onto this old 3D printer – it was the first one I owned – is that it prints ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) filament (the same stuff used in Lego bricks), which is petroleum-based. Although I mostly print in PLA (polylactic acid), ABS lets me do some things I can’t do with PLA.

In particular, it lets me print the two forms shown in this post, which my deltabot printers’ software just can’t seem to handle. The CubeX software can handle the thin edges better and print pieces without supports, which means much far less clean up. It also lets me use a filler that PLA probably wouldn’t put up with.

Accordingly, I decided to create these two forms for an upcoming show. I knew they wouldn’t print perfectly, though, so some body work was in my future ….

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Getting it together: connecting 3D prints

Untitled 3D printed fine art sculpture - Kevin CaronEven though I have an 8-foot-tall 3D printer that will print up to 4 feet tall, there are times I’d like to make something bigger.

I have done that, as evidenced in the 5-1/2 foot tall sculpture Epic Swoon (below), which was commissioned by PriceCooperswaterhouse in Columbus, Ohio. That sculpture, the tallest 3D-printed piece I’ve made to date, reached its height by placing the main part of the sculpture on a black pedestal.

In all honesty, I have not had much luck yet in matching parts so that they can be put together seamlessly, so the contrasting pedestal was a handsome workaround.

Recently I created another sculpture (right) – well, at least the start of one – by printing 2 sections and sliding them together using slots. The fit is tight and requires no adhesive, but it wouldn’t hurt, either.

So it’s no surprise that Pinshape‘s recent post about using adhesives for 3D prints caught my eye ….

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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 ….
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Seeing in 3D – Using 3D printing for prototyping

3D printed stem of Schubertii sculpture - Kevin CaronWhen 3D printing first became popular for more general use – it’d already been around 20 years in industrial and scientific settings – “rapid prototyping” was the buzzword you heard everywhere. (After I started working with 3D printing and especially my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer, I found this hilarious – there wasn’t much rapid about it.)

While I do create sculptures using 3D printing, I also use it for protyping. It’s really important when I’m creating a sculpture in CAD and then actually building it in metal to be able to see all aspects of the form.

A great example is a sculpture I’m just beginning, Schubertii. Based on the plant by the same name, this sculpture will be 12 feet tall. Seven feet of that will be the sculpture’s “stem.”

The stem is fairly simply to look at, but creating it in metal is going to be, well, challenging. Its round edges and flowing form will require me to use a combination of tools – air shaper, English wheel, maybe even the slapper (yeah, there really is a tool called a slapper) – to get the rounded form that is the opposite of how metal comes, in flat sheets.

To get the form right, I printed the stem maquette, or model, on my Cerberus 3D 250 desktop 3D printer ….

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