I 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 →
If you buy a 3D printer “off the shelf,” say a MakerBot or Lulzbot, you get what you got.
Of course, based on the number of units sold of these machines, you can assume they are of some quality. You also know the capabilities of the printer, the kind of filament it can handle, its footprint, and, well, pretty much everything about it.
And you also have, in most cases, an established company you can go back to when things get squirrelly.
But the way 3D printing is evolving, just like computers, the minute you buy it, it’s obsolete. The newer printers can handle more exotic filaments, create larger and better prints. But you have the same 3D printer.
That’s one of the advantages of having a printer that’s built by a small company or even open source ….
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.”
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 ….
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 ….
I’ve written before about how I never create exact multiples of designs, 3D printed or otherwise. It’s possible, it’s just my philosophy to always create unique artworks.
That being said, I do enjoy creating variations of sculptures – something I also do with my metal works – which is how series develop. (If you go to my Website, you’ll see how I have multiple sculptures in the same vein, which are organized as series, in both my Fine Art and Home & Garden categories.)
Sometimes series develop because, as I create one sculpture, I can’t help thinking, “I wonder what would happen if I … ” took a different approach than the one I am already committed to on the piece I’m currently making.
Other times, someone will say something and spark an idea, and I can’t wait to see if it will work in a new sculpture. (A good example of this is Opioid, a 3D-printed sculpture with a light inside. I’ll do more with lights, too – it’s the single most asked question about my large format 3D printed sculptures: “Can you put a light in it?”)
Recently I 3D printed a piece on my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer for a visiting TV crew and decided I wanted to make a variation on this design using the same luscious filament ….
I originally began working in wood (OK, in cars, if you want to go back further). I didn’t do anything professionally with it, but I built some furniture.
Then I turned to metal, which has been the bulk of my practice since I began selling my artwork in the early 2000s.
About 4 or so years ago, I began playing with 3D printing.
Now I work with metal during the day, and 3D print in the evenings and on weekends, having fun with various filaments and forms along the way. I’ve sold a number of 3D-printed sculptures, the largest of which is 5-1/2 feet tall.
OK, maybe I went a little overboard in the headline, but I’m still really jazzed at the reception of my 3D-printed sculpture at the recent Sculpture Tucson show in, yes, Tucson, Arizona (is there another Tucson? Hmmm, I’ll have to look that up ….)
The turnout at the show was incredible. Preliminary estimates say that 4,300 people came through in just 2-1/2 days April 6 – 8.
Although the show was outside at Brandi Fenton Park, I had my Cerberus 3D 250 running the whole time. Amazingly enough, it only failed once when the wind got the best of it, but overall, it performed beautifully.
It also fascinated people. A few people who came by knew about 3D printing, but most visitors had never seen a 3D printer running before. That meant I did a lot of education, which is how it usually goes when I have the printer running at an event.
We actually apologized to the artists around us, who had to hear the spiel over and over and over again. The challenge was always explaining it like I’d never said it before, but what I would say seldom varied (“… start in CAD …” “… the filament comes down from here …” “… like a big glue gun …”) ….
Even 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 ….
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 …. Read More →
About a week ago I decided to tackle a project I’ve been thinking about for a while. I have a beautiful glass tabletop and thought it would be fun to 3D print a base for it.
Fun?! I like to go into a project thinking positively, but maybe that just set me up ….
Anyway, the first day of what would be a 5-day print went fine. It was when I had to change out the 5-pound spool of PLA filament on my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer that things went terribly wrong.
The print paused normally, then I switched out the spool of natural filament and loaded up the new spool. When I tried to resume the print, though, everything went haywire. The printhead swung wildly out of position, and the print was lost.
I was ready to pull my hair out! A whole $100 spool of filament and a day of 3D printing had been lost. Not to mention the frayed nerves.
Then Steve Graber, the man who built the Gigante, told me about the switch ….