Why all sculptors should love additive manufacturing, post 1

Zcorp printed back created from Cyberware scan of life sized sculpture.

Additive manufacturing or rapid prototyping or 3D printing (which ever word group you choose) is the most amazing tool set we have come across since we figured out how to melt metal.  Honestly, I think that this grouping of technology will bring changes to humanity on the level of metal casting.  These tools allow us to create essentially impossible forms, from impossible materials.  As a sculptor, I can create forms in weeks and days that would traditionally take me months and years.  I can push my design farther, grow my ideas faster and develop my forms through rapid generations at light speed allowing me to get closer to the masterpiece state and freeing me significantly to develop my conceptual ideation instead of merely being caught up in process.  The triad of creating traditional physical sculptures, scanning and manipulation of the forms in the computer and then rapidly producing both models and finished products is a perfect complement.    This same experience is happening for product designers – from architects to aerospace engineers.  Because of these tools, they are approaching form and physical solutions to problem with an entirely new paradigm.

Back scan data modelled in Rhino3D

Yes it is a technology and you do have to learn a few things to get started, but the technology has a wonderful community of engineers, designers and an amazing maker community of DIYers that are driving the tools into a seriously user friendly state.  Like anything you can make it as complicated as you want, but the tech is at a state that it is becoming amazingly user friendly.  There is some wonderful freeware (such as google’s sketchup and Igarashi’s smooth teddy) in which most anyone who can turn a computer on and do simple things like read this blog, can be modelling virtual forms in minutes.

This is again the place where the wonderful community of scientists are now the artists best friend – and much to some of their surprise we can be an incredible resource for them.  We have a unique perspective on materials and form.  We approach problem solving without a box. (What box! There was a box?) This interaction for many of the engineers, researchers etc., I have spoken with led to breakthroughs for them.  This brings us back to a new revival of the renaissance.


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