A new 3D printing pen has made it possible to draw in three dimensions, creating new opportunities for artists already experimenting with 3D printing technology.
It sounds a bit like fantasy, but a recently uploaded video on crowd-sourcing website Kickstarter proves otherwise. At first, the pen draws a perfectly normal 2D square on a page. Then, it lifts into the air and continues drawing until a 3D cube appears, a sketched sculpture of solid plastic ink.
Watch the video below to see how the 3Doodler draws three dimensional sculptures in mid-air.
A Kickstarter hit
Launched by toy company WobbleWorks, the 3Doodler operates through the extrusion of heated ABS plastic, which cools and sets solid as it leaves the pen. All users need to start creating is a power outlet and a page on which to anchor their sculpture.
So intense is the buzz around the 3Doodler that the pen surpassed its Kickstarter campaign goal of USD30,000 in less than 24 hours, and has now raised USD1.8 million and counting.
Many of the pen’s early backers on the crowd-sourcing website are artists, 3Doodler Communications and Marketing Director Daniel Cowen told Art Radar, and the new technology was created with artists in mind. Inventors aim, however, “to make 3D creation accessible to all. Users can now 3D create as easily as they can sketch a picture”.
Devised in the 1990s as a method of mass manufacturing, 3D printing allows people to replicate 3D objects in the same way that you make a photocopy: blueprints of anything from fine artworks to pairs of trainers are fed into a 3D printer, which then slowly builds up layers of plastic to “print” the original object.
3D printing revolution
Although intended for industrial purposes, artists and other creatives quickly picked up on the revolutionary potential of 3D printing, recognising its democratic potential and hailing a new “industrial revolution“. Blurring boundaries between art, applied art and mass production, the technology was adopted by artists like Heather Gorham and Bathsheba Grossman.
Belgian artist Nick Ervinck, who showed work in the Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art in 2009, combines 3D printed sculpture with multimedia installations and sees 3D printing as transcending traditional barriers. Speaking to i.materialise he said,
I make sculptures that are on the edge of the physical and digital realm in terms of sculpture and architecture. The art of sculpting has evolved through history with the help of technology. Because architects design mainly with computers now, a new type of language is created. In light of this, I see this new world of architecture as a precursor for what will happen in the world of art and sculpture.
The ability of 3D printing to open up new worlds also informs Eyal Gever‘s work. The Tel Avivi artist uses self-designed 3D animation software and a 3D printer to recreate natural and man-made disasters as sculptures.
Speaking to the BBC, Gever said, “This technology allows the viewer to concentrate on something you would normally never get a chance to consider, because either you don’t experience it, thank God, or it happens so fast…. I’m trying to find the beauty in catastrophe.”
Print your own dress, chair, house!
3D technology is being used to revitalise art and design in other surprising ways. In 2012, San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum invited museum-goers to create their own digitally printed 3D replicas of ancient artifacts from the institution’s collection. Fashion, design and architecture are also in line for a 3D revolution, as the 3D dream of printing your own clothes, furniture and even home nears reality.
Would you add the 3Doodler to your artist tool kit? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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