3D Printing – Reimagining Creativity

3D Printing By Waag Society

3D Printing By Waag Society

Lately there have been countless articles and references to 3D printing, 3D printed shoes, guns, art, bicycles and casts for broken arms… While making 3D weapons understandably sparked a great deal of controversy and even panic in the press, other products especially in fashion and design have been met with a huge degree of interest by the public. But what is 3D printing and how advanced is this practice in reality?

3D-printing innovations at the Inside 3D Printing Expo at the Javits Center by Inhabitat

3D-printed shoes at the Inside 3D Printing Expo at the Javits Center by Inhabitat

Unlike conventional printers, 3D printing allows you to create a physical object from a digital model designed on the computer. (I had an image of a pair of shoes emerging from our office printer when I was reading about this, so don’t worry if you’re finding it hard to imagine.) The process is also known as ‘additive manufacturing’ which works by adding layers of new material in certain shapes to create the final product (see video below). This meticulous method of manufacturing is quite different to the usual process of either reshaping or carving out an object from the raw material – such as stone or metals.

3D Printed Cells Bowl - Math Art by Dizingo

3D Printed Cells Bowl – Math Art by Dizingo

The main thing about 3D printing is that it allows you to create endless identical versions of a product using the same digital prototype. In terms of mass marketing and accuracy this is quite a revolutionary tool. But have we reached the stage where we can really say this process is world changing? I did some research to find out how costly and how easy it would be to create my very own 3D product, envisaging a small piece of jewellery just as a tester. Maybe a pair of R-Inc knuckle dusters?

3D Printed klein bottle Pendant - Math Art By Dizingof

3D Printed klein bottle Pendant – Math Art By Dizingof

Searching for a willing print shop couldn’t be so hard. However I soon realised that my new mission was about to land me well outside of my sustainable ideals, as 3D printing mostly uses plastics… nevertheless it was a design process that simply fascinated me. Eventually I decided against the knuckle dusters, but continued to look into the process itself.

Quadrifolium 3D Print By fdecomite

Quadrifolium 3D Print By fdecomite

What I found was inspiring, however it was more of an interesting idea than a flawless method. Many 3D products, besides being quite environmentally unfriendly, are not of the highest quality. While it could hugely simplify the design process, currently the cost still seems to be too high to be worth it. There is no doubt that in the next few years this will change, however at this stage it doesn’t seem worth it unless your products are small white plastic and you have a lack of physical labour.

This 3D object is adatpted and optimized for 3D printing with netfabb.

This 3D object is adatpted and optimized for 3D printing with netfabb.

In terms of more complex structures that need to be assembled from multiple small identical pieces 3D printing could provide a welcome alternative to current manufacturing techniques. And there are already a number of inventions such as the Filabot seeking to use recycled materials as “3D ink”.

3D printing By marymactavish

3D printing By marymactavish

It seems that while machines can assist in manufacturing to some degree, there is nothing more valuable or beautiful than skilled craftsmanship. Machines may provide a cost effective way of mass producing simple goods, but in terms of creative projects and unique high quality objects the input and skills of a human are essential. Having said that, 3D printing still fascinates me and I am interested to see how artists and designers will incorporate this process into their own work. Doubtless to say this is only the beginning…

Video by Create it REAL

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Plastic Bottles Are Not Trash: South Africans turn waste into a business opportunity

This is a short video about recycling in South Africa, focusing on waste management as a business, education and of course the environmental and social benefits recycling old materials. The film shows that recycling and reuse can be profitable for the whole community.

As seen on Infrastructure News

Profile: Carolina Fontoura Alzaga

Caro with bike cog Photo by Fabiola Torres Alzaga

Caro with bike cog Photo by Fabiola Torres Alzaga

Carolina Fontoura Alzaga’s magnificent chandeliers and lights, made from repurposed bike chains, are not only stunning but hugely innovative.

View from below photo by Caro Fontoura Alzaga

View from below photo by Caro Fontoura Alzaga

Caro’s work has been shaped by her lifelong movement between spaces and cultures. The results tell a story of her experiences in these contrasting environments and shifting realities, allowing her artistic vocabulary to evolve.

Photo by Alan J. Crossley

Photo by Alan J. Crossley

Before moving to LA, Caro spent her childhood in Denver, Colorado with frequent trips to Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro to visit family. This broad world view influenced her artistic perspective urging her to be drawn to finding beauty and value in overlooked narratives and weathered textures.

Photo by Caro Fontoura Alzaga

Photo by Caro Fontoura Alzaga

Her belief in the varied functionality of objects and materials is very present in the CONNECT series. She demonstrates that something is rarely doomed to actually being ‘trash’, but that most things simply change their purpose.

“To understand the idea that something that had an original function does not need to have that same function…[you can] transcend that function”

Photo by John Valls

Photo by John Valls

Caro emphasises she is able to express her beliefs through her work, alluding to the strong themes of sustainability and recycling. She seeks to initiate a “reclamation of agency and influence” and by doing so “influencing that path of our future”.

Caro working photo by Alan J. Crossley

Caro working photo by Alan J. Crossley

She adds that although she is not out on the street protesting, she is hoping that she will be able to start a dialogue through her work. Her work shows that you can channel creativity with resourcefulness and make a visible impact on how people perceive discarded materials.

“you can make beautiful things out of unlikely materials, and out of trash – because it’s not trash. I mean it’s trash because it no longer serves its original function but that doesn’t mean it can’t have another function altogether. And that’s where our creativity comes in”

Photo by Caro Fontoura Alzaga

Photo by Caro Fontoura Alzaga

Understandably due to the labour intensive design and production process, these stunning chandeliers do come at a price. However Caro does not only accept money at payment, she also recognises the value of trading goods or services.

“I do barter in exchange for my chandeliers in select situations. The trade has to be comparable to the time and effort that goes into making a CONNECT piece. In the past I’ve traded a two-year membership to a yoga studio and even got a designer to make this website in exchange for a chandelier.”

Here is a short video about Caro and her work.

Handmade Portraits: Chain Reaction from Etsy on Vimeo.

The Third Function: Reclaiming the Discarded and the Invisible

C2bPhotobyAlanJ.Crossley

Photo by Alan J. Crossley

The LA based multidisciplinary artist, Carolina Fontoura Alzaga (better known as Caro), has created the CONNECT Series of spectacular, cascading, and seemingly traditional chandeliers. These chandeliers however, are not made of glass or crystal but have been carefully crafted using discarded bike parts.

Carolina Fontoura Alzaga Photo by Alan J. Crossley

Carolina Fontoura Alzaga Photo by Alan J. Crossley

Caro professes that she became inspired to create the series when she started exploring the “third function” of materials. She describes the lifecycle in three stages of discarded materials being transformed and reclaimed into something new –

1. they serve their original function
2. their original function becomes obsolete and they become ‘trash’
3. they cease to be ‘trash’ as they are transformed into something entirely new

Photo by Caro Fontoura Alzaga

Photo by Caro Fontoura Alzaga

Through this process she seeks to transform objects deemed to be excess waste by “effectively reclaiming the ‘discarded’ and ‘invisible’ to create something far more powerful and commanding.”

Photo by Alan J. Crossley

Photo by Alan J. Crossley

As a result the “chandelier itself becomes a metaphor of reclaimed power.”

Photo by Alan J. Crossley

Photo by Alan J. Crossley

The CONNECT Series chandeliers are influenced by both modern and Victorian styles, as well as by bike culture, and a strong belief in the concept of sustainability and environmental preservation.

“The idea for ‘The CONNECT Series’ began from seeing pots and pans hung from a makeshift pot rack made from a bicycle rim. It inspired me to make a mobile made from a bike rim, bike tube, and bike gears. The result was lovely but too simple and it was the semantic mistake of calling it a bike ‘chandelier’ and not a mobile that led me to make a proper chandelier.”

C13photobyAlanJ.Crossley

Photo by Alan J. Crossley

Caro has a unique gift for recognising value and functionality in unwanted objects, allowing these to serve a purpose even if it greatly differs from their original use.

“In her art and her life, Caro works to find beauty in the discarded, and challenges the necessity of the new.”

Photo by Caro Fontoura Alzaga

Photo by Caro Fontoura Alzaga

Sleeping in a Sea of Dreams

If only you could drift to sleep to the gentle rocking of the waves, listening to the rhythm of the the ocean while you are sent into a deep slumber. Well you can do just that – almost. This bed is made from an old salvaged boat suspended from the ceiling. It’s almost like a steady hardwood hammock or a huge crib. And it even doubles up as a sofa and a rocking chair. Imagine sleeping in a boat suspended several inches from the ground like a floating cocoon. Sounds like bliss…the only issue is attaching it to the ceiling.

Boat bed

Boat bed/sofa

 

The Green Chair Project: Recycled, Comfortable and Affordable

Chair 114 by Estudio Mariscal Sketch

Sketch of Chair 114 by Estudio Mariscal

Spanish design studio, Estudio Marsical, have designed an affordable, comfortable, sustainable chair with a 100% recycled plastic recyclable seat.

Chair 114 by Estudio Mariscal

Chair 114 by Estudio Mariscal

The chair is ideal for small budgets, as the material and the manufacturing process are inexpensive.

Chair 114 by Estudio Mariscal

Chair 114 by Estudio Mariscal

Because the chairs are all made from recycled material, they all have a dark grey colour. However each chair is unique and they vary slightly from one another.

Chair 114 by Estudio Mariscal

Chair 114 by Estudio Mariscal

 

Despite its coarse appearance, the seat has good ergonomics thanks to its polygonal geometric shape. To soften its texture, there is a high relief engraving that homogenises it and contrasts with the back of the chair. This displays a vein which makes it more robust and steady. The legs are made of wood and painted metal.

Chair 114 by Estudio Mariscal

Chair 114 by Estudio Mariscal

The Green Chair by the Barcelona based design studio is a project that was designed with the commitment to be affordable, pleasant and sustainable.

Jennifer Newman Studio’s M-Bamboo Table

Jennifer Newman Studio will be showcasing their new M-Bamboo table at Clerkenwell Design Week this week.

Jennifer_Newman_Bamboo_I-O_015_CDW

The M-Bamboo table is the first product designed by the Studio that incorporates bamboo surfaces. And because bamboo is a fast growing, replenishable grass it is also a sustainable resource.

Jennifer_Newman_Bamboo_I-O_013_CDW

When bamboo is compressed in to solid material it initially has the appearance of a high quality semi-hard wood, it transforms into a dark hardwood following treatment to avoid bacterial degradation for use outside.

Jennifer_Newman_Bamboo_I-O_016_CDW

The table comes in a dark chocolate coloured top for use outside or inside, or in a light caramel top for inside use only.

Jennifer_Newman_Bamboo_I-O_010_CDW

The frame of the M-Bamboo table is made of powder-coated aluminium as is the M-Bench which fits the table perfectly.

Jennifer_Newman_Bamboo_I-O_006_CDW

Jennifer Newman Studio will be exhibiting their designs in the Farmiloe Building at Clerkenwell Design Week from the 21st-23rd of May.

Jennifer_Newman_Bamboo_I-O_001_CDW