3D Printing Enables Art

3D printing and additive manufacturing feel like the technologies of hardcore manufacturing, better suited for aerospace technology, turbines and automotive parts.  But the fact is, 3D printing and additive manufacturing have touched virtually every sector of production and innovation in existence today.  It may seem as though the art and fashion world would not be…

3D printing and additive manufacturing feel like the technologies of hardcore manufacturing, better suited for aerospace technology, turbines and automotive parts.  But the fact is, 3D printing and additive manufacturing have touched virtually every sector of production and innovation in existence today.  It may seem as though the art and fashion world would not be likely sources of 3D printing, but these industries are also being enhanced by these breakthrough technologies.

Museums are taking advantage of 3D printing by making creating digital backups of masterpieces in order to produce exact replicas, either in order to preserve an original piece or to replace an exhibit being loaned out to another museum.  Traditional recreation would take six months or longer to build, while 3D printing can accomplish it in a matter of hours.  In many cases, museums have used 3D printing in order to replicate items that were stolen but should go with an exhibit, such as King Tut’s tomb articles, looted in early 2011.

Creating three-dimensional art itself usually means hundreds of hours of sculpting from a variety of sources such as wood, clay or metal. The intensive labor involved means artists may only be able to produce a handful of projects in a given year.  Creating a replica would mean starting from scratch.  But 3D printing enables digital imagery down to the smallest of details.  Once an artist creates a 3D mold, even fingerprints and eyelashes can be replicated.  Some brands such as Nike have gotten on board with 3D art, creating giant basketball players to hang from certain stores, or the art piece “Spirit Bear,” created for the XXI Olympic Games in Vancouver.  Even fashion design uses 3D printing to make certain textiles that are otherwise unobtainable or execute precise laser cuts and shapes that traditional machinery cannot replicate.

There are lots of creative ways to use 3D printing and additive manufacturing.  How will you use it?

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