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3D Printing Art

Friday 15th May 2015

It's no secret that 3D printing has been taking the world by storm over the past couple of years. From 3D printing custom mobile phone cases to 3D printing entire houses, it's an entirely new paradigm when it comes to the construction of objects large and small. It's probably no surprise, therefore, that there is a lively and developing community of artists who are taking advantage of the new technology to explore sculpture and modeling in entirely new ways.

Probably the most appealing element of the ongoing 3D printing revolution is the development of different materials that can be printed. Original 3D printers were slow, clunky, and extremely limited in terms of the kind of materials they could construct with. Often, users were limited to one type of plastic, but as the technology has evolved, so too have the materials available to both makers and artists.

The piece shown to the right is actually a 3D printed sculpture executed entirely in sandstone by Swiss architects Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger, entitled Arabesque Wall. It's currently on display in a gallery in Toronto, Canada, as part of an exhibit on 3D printing by the Design Exchange entitled 3DXL: A Large-Scale 3D Printing Exhibition. Not exactly the catchiest title, but the exhibit is part technical showcase and part art exhibit, so perhaps they can be forgiven.

As Design Exchange president Shauna Levy explained to the CBC, “Up until now, 3D printing has been almost behind a veil and has been a mystery to many people.” The exhibit features the work of 3D designers and artists from around the world, and will be on display until August 16 in downtown Toronto.

Visitors can also see 3D printing in action thanks to a working 3D printer that is creating life-sized chairs for an installation that is part of the exhibit. Each chair takes 11 hours to make, so you probably won't have the patience to see one spring to life from nothing while you watch unless you're extremely lazy, but it's still fascinating to watch for a minute or two. When you then compare the relative simplicity of the chair construction to the wildly intricate complexities of Arabesque Wall, you finally begin to truly appreciate the wide range of possibilities that 3D printing provides artists, designers, and makers of all tastes and talents.  

Posted on May 15th 2015 on 03:00pm

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