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Why Each of My 3D-Printed Sculptures Is Unique

When he does 3D printing demonstrations, Kevin often gets asked whether, once he creates the form of a sculpture, can he just keep pushing a button and the 3D printer will keep spitting them out?

Says Kevin: "It really doesn't work that way."

The sculpture he is holding in his hand, The Point, is a good example of why. The sculpture is a bronze that isn't poured but is 3D printed using PLA filament that is 80% real bronze.

He created the shape on his desktop computer using a CAD program. Kevin printed the one in his hand on his Cerberus 3D 250 desktop 3D printer. Then he "blew up" the form to create a large version, also in 3D-printed bronze.

Even though it's the same original file, the larger version, which he printed on his 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer, has different proportions and a different finish, creating a different look.

That fits in with Kevin's 3D-printing philosophy: he doesn't want to print the same thing over and over again. He's not a factory or a cookie cutter. He wants to make sculpture that looks good and pleases him, as well as pleasing others.

This approach is what leads to series. Once he can take a maquette and play with it, he can begin seeing different ways to approach and enhance a form. That creates sculptures that are related, but not identical. The form evolves.

There is, however, actually a precedent for repeating the same sculpture over and over again: the traditional bronze process. In that approach, you make your sculpture, usually in clay, then create a mold from that form. Then a foundry pours bronze into the mold to make the same sculpture over and over again. Kevin, though, prefers "one off" sculptures.

He may create a sculpture with the same shape, but it will be a different size, different shape, different texture, different color.

Because his Gigante 3D printer is large and not enclosed, environmental factors also pretty much guarantee that no 2 sculptures will be identical. Changes in temperature, light exposure, filament, etc. mean that each sculpture will have its own nature. So you really can't get the same sculpture over and over again, even if you wanted to.

Kevin hopes that gives you some insights into 3D printing and the way his twisted mind works. He's ready to get back to the big 3D print he just started, but you might want to stick around another moment to see him do something he really doesn't want to explain ....

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