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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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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:

3D printing filament welder to save money and stress

Because of the size of its prints, running Cerberus 3D’s Gigante 3D printer makes filament Spools of 3D printer filament - Kevin Caronhandling a real challenge. I’m using 5 pound spools of 3 millimeter filament right now, but if I could find 10, 15 or even 20 pound spools I’d definitely use them.

Why? Well, when you’re running a multiday print, you go through a lot of filament. I’ve spent many a night waiting to change filament spools – well, that was until I figured out I could just switch a nearly finished spool for a fresh one before I went to bed.

I would never have done that, though, if I hadn’t already ordered the handy, dandy filament welder I got recently (yeah, I think it’s funny, too, that it’s called a filament “welder” – just one more welder in my toolshed!) ….

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The more I use my 3D printer, the more uses I find for it ….

When I got my first 3D printer, sculptures were definitely on my mind. I thought about how I could make things that metal just resists, despite the fact that many people think I’m a metal magician (blush, blush).

Custom sculpture pedestal by Kevin Caron

Pedestal, printing upside down

As I’ve gotten more familiar with the machines and their capabilities, though, I’ve begun to see other ways to use them.

For instance, this week I started printing a custom pedestal for a sculpture I sold at a recent art show ….

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How to use a 3D printer

This 5-part series shows how I created a maquette, or small model of my sculpture The Runner.

The video was featured in my one-man show at the Chandler Center for the Arts in October 2013, as was a metal maquette and the actual sculpture itself.

The sculpture sold shortly after the show closed. I don’t think the video or maquettes had anything to do with it, but it was great for me to have proof-of-concept to make sure it would stand up!