3D printing for artists: research and creative practice
Walters, P. and Davies, K. (2010) 3D printing for artists: research and creative practice. Rapport: Journal of the Norwegian Print Association, 1. pp. 12-15. ISSN 1891-0408
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3D printing technologies enable physical objects to be produced from digital design data, created using computer aided design software (CAD), or by digitising the shape of existing objects using a 3D scanner. 3D printing, also known as rapid prototyping and solid freeform fabrication, is widely used by engineers and industrial designers, to make physical prototypes, enabling them to visualise and test new design proposals. 3D printing can also be used by surgeons, to produce patient-specific anatomical models based on medical scan data, to assist them in planning complex surgical procedures, and by archeologists and museums, to produce replicas of historic artifacts. These exciting technologies are also increasingly being employed by practitioners in the creative arts, to realise one-off and limited edition art and design artifacts, including works of sculpture, ceramics and jewellery. In this article we will describe the 3D printing process and common 3D printing technologies currently in use. We will briefly introduce some of the academic research into new 3D technologies which is taking place within the art and design sector, including the work of the 3D Printing Laboratory at the Centre for Fine Print Research, University of the West of England, where the authors are currently based. We will then go on to present a practical case study, focusing on a recent collaboration by the authors, in which 3D printing was exploited in the creative realisation of an artwork.
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