Archive for the ‘Artists’ Category

Interview with David Cawley

Posted by Fred Kaplan On March - 30 - 2017

Designing the future at ArtCenter College of Design

By Fred Kaplan

Interview with David Cawley

Digital manufacturing becomes one more tool in the tool box of design

ArtCenter College of Design, located in Pasadena, California, is one of the best-rated industrial design and transportation design colleges in the country. Alumni include designers of the Corvette Stingray, the new Volkswagen Beetle, the Mini Cooper and members of the band Linkin Park. (Less famously and, for full disclosure, the author is an alumnus of ArtCenter’s photography department. –ed.)

The 3D printing industry is currently exploding with new technologies, new materials and more accessible than ever. There is increased attention in defining how 3D printing fits in with manufacturing best-practices compared to traditional manufacturing methods. ArtCenter is on the leading edge of 3D printing for its efforts in refining new approaches in design and prototyping.

Among the tools students use to design the cars and other visionary objects of the future are seven large-format laser cutters, a five-axis CNC machine, six desktop mills, traditional wood working and clay sculpting tools, and 15 3D printers. David Cawley, ArtCenter’s Director of Prototyping & Model Services has been working with 3D printers since 1990. He started as a journeyman master pattern maker, and spent ten years as a director at Solid Concepts prototyping prior to his past nine years at ArtCenter.

Interview with David Cawley

3D Printer Magazine: How does ArtCenter use its 3D Printers?

David Cawley: ArtCenter is primarily a design school. Our students use a blend of craft and technology to design and create their projects using the traditional shop, and more recently digital manufacturing like CAD and 3D printers. I see additive manufacturing as just another tool in the tool box.

3D Printer Magazine: Which 3D printers are you using?

David Cawley: We are using a variety of printers. Many of the students have their own printers. ArtCenter was an early adopter of 3D printer technology more than ten years ago, starting with wax printers, since then we have evolved with StrataSys FDM, 3D Systems ColorJet X60 series binder-jet printers, Objet polyjet printers as well as desktop units. We have kept pace with printing technology.

3D Printer Magazine: What percentage of the shop work is created on a 3D printer?

David Cawley: I don’t think the traditional shop will ever go away but we have been seeing an increase in 3D printing versus the traditional shop. It’s a matter of having the knowledge to choose the right tool for the job. You want to 3D-print complex geometries, whereas with bulky heavy items should be taken to the shop to save time and money due to the price of the materials. Obviously, a big chunk of wood is cheaper than a big chunk of 3D printing material.

ArtCenter is primarily known for transportation design so we are often working in one-fifth scale. A 3D-printed car at one-fifth scale could be thousands of dollars in printing costs. We find that the students are often combining the two techniques. Students will 3D-print the wheels, the grills, the lights for better details and use clay or other materials for the larger car parts.

Interview with David Cawley

3D Printer Magazine: We have seen a lot internet stories about car manufacturers using 3D printers. Has 3D printing technology changed how classes are taught or how the students create?

David Cawley: We put effort into being on the leading edge of technology and think we should be ahead of the studios. We are teaching the students who will be working in these studios in a couple of years. The designers who are teaching our classes are ArtCenter alumni who have come back from these design studios tell us what the auto design studios are looking for; particularly regarding the equipment the studios are using. They are using very large industrial 3D printers. We recently had someone here from Jaguar who said that they 3D-print the prototypes of their cars as much as they can, the interiors, and all kinds of things. 3D printing is really making a big impact on transportation design.

3D Printer Magazine: Do you think these students need a high-end 3D printer, or do you see a role for desktop printers?

David Cawley: I think they need access to the technology, we may not have every tool in the tool box but it is important to know what the tools are, and how to use a service bureau for that metal part or whatever technology you don’t own. We are not going to bring a metal printer into the school in the short term so it’s about teaching the students about what is available. Of course, many students are doing great work with desktop and hobbyist printers.

3D Printer Magazine: Have you seen a difference in the work of students who have more access to a 3D printer?

David Cawley: The faculty here see it more as an aspect of understanding design. A student’s creativity is often limited to their CAD knowledge. The student’s imagination is limitless, a 3D printer’s job is to realize that vision as a physical form in the real world. So, a 3D printer could limit creativity due to a student’s CAD knowledge as opposed to a student’s ability to sculpt clay. Sculpting in clay and other traditional methods are still very important in transportation design.

3D Printer Magazine: Does the typical ArtCenter student start with CAD knowledge?

David Cawley: When students are introduced to the shop we talk about what they will be experiencing in the shops and in the digital labs. I take a show of hands to see who has used CAD and created STL files. We ask, “Who has been in a shop, who has used a band saw, etc?” Shop has been in decline in high schools so we don’t see as many hands going up for shop, but we also don’t get that many hands up for CAD. Most of the computing that students come in with tends to be social networking computing, most haven’t made a CAD file and 3D-printed it; but the number is increasing.

3D Printer Magazine: How about 3D scanners?

David Cawley: Scanners and 3D printers go hand-in-hand. We have seen an increase in scanning activities since the price of scanners has come down. The faculty aren’t that interested in scanning. They want the students to create, not copying something that already exists. Right now, what’s holding scanning technology back is that the output of the scanners need so much post processing and the learning curve to get the best output is steep.

3D Printer Magazine: Which of ArtCenter’s departments tend to use the 3D printers most?

David Cawley: Everyone is using 3D printers – transportation design, product design, even fine art students. The fine art students don’t usually have CAD files – that’s where we may see the bridge to scanning. I think scanners will encourage fine art students to create digital art.

3D Printer Magazine: Do you feel the need to instruct students on the specific techniques of CAD to achieve the best 3D printer results?

David Cawley: The way that 3D printing has been portrayed is that it can make anything, no matter how complex. You can print any object in “one go” which all sounds really cool, but the reality is that most items are made from multiple components. 3D printing allows you the freedom of design, to make more complex geometry, but in the real world of manufacturing one has to define what the best approach is. If you are a good designer and you have a good background on fit, assembly and how things work, then 3D printing is really powerful to express unique ideas; but ultimately an engineer will be engineering your item. There is no way around that.

3D printing has always been a material’s game. There is a lot of talk about DDM, (Direct Digital Manufacturing) using full metal parts – that’s going to be the future of manufacturing for a lot of industries. Where we are using 3D printing is in prototyping. ArtCenter students are creating 3D-printed items for visual presentation, not functionality.

A lot of our students’ work is in ideas, concepts of what something is going to look like. The engineers will put the reality check to the design and make it work. What I love about 3D printing is that it allows students to express themselves. Whether the object could be manufactured or not – it’s still cool. ArtCenter is about making a lot of stuff including furniture, scale car models, toys, wearables and more.

3D Printer Magazine: If you started a 3D printer department in a small- to middle-sized school today, what would you start with?

David Cawley: For an educational environment, it is vital to get as much variety of technology as possible. There isn’t one printer that can do everything, so as an educational institution you want to have a few different technologies, we have the 3D Systems Colorjet 650 printer which prints in a gypsum powder – capable of printing hundreds of thousands of colors, and the Objet which is best for refined details and high resolution printing, as well as the other printers.

3D Printer Magazine: If you had to choose between quality or quantity of 3D printers what would you choose?

David Cawley: All the 3D printers companies are battling for faster throughput. If you think about it, 3D printing is a pretty slow way of making something, layer by layer. Obviously the thinner the layer the better the resolution but the longer the print time. The thinner layer is all about higher quality unless you can do it really fast like the CLIP technology from Carbon3D. [Printing speed] can be a painful experience. We need to stay on the edge of developing technology. It has really been an exciting time over the last five years – it’s really been revolutionary.

Interview with David Cawley

3D Printer Magazine: What do think the next five years of 3D printing will look like?

David Cawley: I expect, during the next five years, developments in the consumer hobbyist area of 3D printing will slow down. I think CAD software has advanced beyond the capabilities of 3D printers, so I hope that 3D printers will catch up.

3D Printer Magazine: Do recommend that students who want to learn 3D printing approach it with strong CAD knowledge?

David Cawley: You have brought up an interesting point. The barrier to creating an interesting 3D-printed part is the ability to create an appropriately printable STL file. The students who know CAD are going to get more interesting files quicker. The point may be, how easy is it to learn CAD? There are open-source CAD programs that are easier to access than ever before. The whole design process is changing. CAD is now married to 3D printing like never before. There are more embedded features [in CAD] that are beneficial to 3D printing. The education gap between those who are proficient in CAD and those who aren’t will close as the software becomes easier to use and more accessible. I expect that in the next five years, we will see CAD programs that will make it easier to design and refine files for 3D printing.

3D Printer Magazine: What kind of educational tools would you recommend to those unable to attend ArtCenter.

David Cawley: There is always the internet. It’s all on the internet you just have to find what you need.

3D Printer Magazine: Are there any common mistakes that you see 3D-printer students make?

David Cawley: People starting with 3D printers often see the printers as a one-size-fits-all panacea, thinking the printer can do everything in one print. It’s later that students realize why things are assembled in separate pieces. It might be as simple as paint required in an area that may be unpaintable if the part is printed in one piece. 3D printing cuts through some of the manufacturing conventions, but students quickly realize that the parts printed in one-piece assemblies may not function or fit like they do on the CAD screen. It’s one of those things you got to keep doing until you figure out what you need to know. The students pick it up really quick.

3D Printer Magazine: Is there any other information you want to give us?

David Cawley: At ArtCenter, we try to be on the leading edge of the technologies – whether it be 3D printing, photography or everything else. It’s interesting to see how the labs have changed to become more integrated like a traditional model shop with a digital area. This is something the new ideas are challenging – when we are used to making something one way and now it’s better to use a newer process. Part of the education is to explain why we are doing it this way or that way. Digital manufacturing and 3D printing are opening up new concepts of manufacturing. It’s an exciting time.

Fred Kaplan is a 3D-printing material specialist, who has worked with SLA, SLS, FDM, ColorJet, ADAM, DLP, LOM, FFF, MultiJet, Polyjet, and SDL 3D printers. Specializing in matching the best technology to a particular 3D printing application, he has also worked with many brands of 3D scanners and many CAD packages.

Prior to his work in additive manufacturing, Fred received a Los Angeles area Emmy and other awards for documentary filmmaking.

Baselworld Announces 2017 3D-Printed Jewelry Awards

Posted by Editor On March - 29 - 2017

Baselworld Announces 2017 3D-Printed Jewelry Awards

The Baselworld Design Competition awards are the height of acclaim in jewelry artistry

Designer Anna Popovych of IE Popovych in the Ukraine created “Drop of Freedom” ring, winning the Platinum Award for CAD jewelry design. The Baselworld Design Competition award, offered by Baselworld and Solidscape, honors CAD designers of jewelry and watches. Solidscape, a Stratasys subsidiary, manufacturers top-grade 3D wax printers for the jewelry, medical, orthopedic, and precision engineering trades.

To read the full story, and see the remaining award winners, see

Interview with Desmond Chan

Posted by Editor On September - 8 - 2016

Interview with Desmond Chan

Interview with Desmond ChanDesmond Chan

Desmond Chan, a Hong Kong jewelry designer, creates artwork of adornment inspired by the natural world and digital technology — and a touch of surrealism. Chan agreed to share his thoughts on pushing the envelope of jewelry design through 3D-design tools. Here is our discussion.

3D Printr Magazine: Tell us about how you got started.

Desmond Chan: I started making jewelry in 2013 when I couldn’t find a special Christmas present for my wife.

At this point, I decided to use my 3D-modeling skills to build a star-shaped pendant and I used 3D-printing technology to make it into sterling silver. That was my first jewelry design and she still enjoys wearing it.

Interview with Desmond Chan

My idea is to make use of 3D-printing technology and modern art to transform art pieces into wearable jewelry. My goal is to design energetically within the limited and specialized art medium of jewelry.

My latest creations are the Zodiac Tiger Ring and Wire Heart Ring.

The Tiger is one of the twelve-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac.

Interview with Desmond Chan

The Tiger’s nature to seek out opportunities wherever they can in an attempt to improve their abilities and hone their profession. It represents strength, courage, and determination. The tiger ring with its delicate patterns of lace is made out of my intention to bring the wearer the aspects of beauty, good luck, and love in life.

Interview with Desmond Chan

The voluptuous wire heart ring is simply a physical line and a very abstract element. Each design begins as a 2D concept, which I use my 3D modeling knowledge to convert the 2D concept into 3D form with delicate structure. The wire heart ring started from a simple 2D heart shape. I use it to literally sculpt a heart shape in a three-dimensional drawing style. The wire heart has different thicknesses that provide the ring with a resilient surface tension and overall strength of structure.

3D Printr Magazine: Where did 3D technology take you in design innovation?

Interview with Desmond Chan

Desmond Chan: I produced my second 3D-printed piece, “Splash Lamp,” in 2014. It was inspired by high-speed water drop photography, which seized the very moment when a water drop created an unbelievable liquid art. I found it fascinating and it gives me great satisfaction to turn my product designs into reality. [3D-design programs] are a brilliant technology for producing a unique product based on my own concepts. Some of the ideas would be hard or expensive to achieve when it comes to traditional product development. 3D printing can also be integrated into my on-demand production pipeline to reduce inventory costs.

3D Printr Magazine: What kind of 3D printer do you use?

Desmond Chan: I do not have my 3D printer. I am using different 3D-printing service providers in Belgium and Hong Kong to produce prototypes and the final products.

3D Printr Magazine: What kind of 3D software do you use?

Desmond Chan: I use Autodesk Maya to build my jewelry models. Maya supports polygon modeling very well with lots of editing tools to create organic forms in one piece. It also allows me to write a small program using MEL script to make noise patterns that simulate handcrafted roughness.

3D Printr Magazine: What is the creative process like for you? Do you begin with a sculpted model? What are the steps from initial concept to building a model?

Desmond Chan: Each design begins as a sketch on paper, then I give it shape and form by using Autodesk Maya 3D modeling and animation software. Once I am happy with the design, I export the model as an STL file and send it to local 3D printing service provider for making prototype before I make the final piece in precious metals.

3D Printr Magazine: You mentioned using Maya Embedded Language (MEL) to reproduce surface effects, and we previously displayed your work at 3D Printr Magazine in regards to design trends and the use of Chronolab to capture the motion of moving objects. Tell us more about how the use of these softwares are advancing your creative process. When did they take your imagination to a place it had never been?

Desmond Chan: Autodesk Maya’s sharp edges and lines are too perfect to be represented realistically. Also, Autodesk Maya does not have the jewelry features as other jewelry 3D software, such as free-form surface subtracting, stones and mountings libraries. Once computer-generated jewelry is exported to print, additional tricks are used to diminish its perfection. With the help of Maya’s MEL scripting, the straight edges and lines are blended and deformed. Barely visible noise is added to the overall 3D model to make it look natural. Maya’s MEL can help to speed up complicated or repetitive tasks that I may need to spend a few hours to do in manual processing.

Interview with Desmond Chan

3D Printr Magazine: The jewelry industry has already done well to adopt additive manufacturing. Was finding vendor services a difficult process?

Desmond Chan: It is easy to find vendor services to produce small amount pieces in Europe and Hong Kong. 3D printing is helping me to develop my own brand. I am able to transform my designs into wearable jewelry without having to invest a lot of money to purchase tools and equipment. I can simply focus on designing custom-made jewelry and intricately detailed jewelry on-demand at reasonable prices without having to purchase stock in large inventories of products.

Interview with Desmond Chan

3D Printr Magazine: Your jewelry has a definitive style. Do you feel the digital process will end up providing files for others to reproduce or are the sharing of files as much a security factor as everything else in the jewelry business? Are you worried about unofficial reproductions of your work?

Desmond Chan: I am using professional vendor services in Europe and Hong Kong. They won’t reproduce and share my designs to others. Thus, I am not worried about unofficial reproductions of my designs.

3D Printr Magazine: Many of the objects you have made are derived from natural shapes. How does the inspiration process occur? Do you look for jewelry designs in the natural world?

Interview with Desmond Chan

Desmond Chan: Everything becomes a possible source of inspiration – from modern artwork to an object on the street. After experimenting with several designs that garnered compliments from family, friends and coworkers, I decided to launch my own business and market the custom jewelry online. The rabbit collection is designed for my daughter. She loves rabbits very much and always asks me when she can raise rabbits.

Interview with Desmond Chan

3D Printr Magazine: Much of your work seems to be attributed to Salvador Dali. Please tell us about your personal interest in Dali and how that comes out in your work.

Desmond Chan: I appreciate surrealism. I would like to make use of organic forms and asymmetrical shapes to produce lively design. Using technology to experiment, I transform different elements into another form to create a new definition of that object. Salvador Dali is one of my favorite artists. Part of my designs were inspired by his surrealistic art pieces involving concepts of contradiction, illusion, floating objects, and the stuff of dreams. My latest design are melting clock earrings. They were designed for my friend who also loves Salvador Dali’s paintings and sculptures. Melting clocks are the most memorable item in his paintings. Persistence of Memory and Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory both feature the clocks within them. It is believed that melting clocks refer to Einstein’s theory about time being relative and not fixed.

How to connect

Find out about more of Desmond Chan’s artistry at:
and purchase his creations at:

3D Printing Gives a Face to a 2,000-Year-Old Egyptian

Posted by Editor On September - 2 - 2016

3D Printing Gives a Face to a 2,000-Year-Old Egyptian

Alicia Miller writes about how a joint effort of artists and researchers are fleshing out the remains of an Egyptian mummy

University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, in conjunction with sculptors and Egyptologists, have been able to render a vision of what an 18- to 25-year-old Egyptian mummy named Meritamun looked like.

Researchers used a broad range of information to conduct facial recognition of a mummy whose skull was 3D-printed for the project. Using data based on Egyptian facial features, as well as information obtained from the skull, sculptor Jennifer Mann was able to render a likely representation of what Meritamun looked like at the time of her death.

For more on the story, see:

New Stargate Erected in Belgium

Posted by Editor On August - 29 - 2016

New Stargate Erected

Vigo Universal has completed a replica Stargate Portal as part of a museum exhibition

Bridget Butler Millsaps reports on how Vigo Universal constructed a 20-foot replica of a stargate portal

Vigo Universal has completed the construction of a 20-foot stargate replica commissioned by Belgium’s Musée Royal de Mariemont. The portal is a work of art based on the legendary TV show series Stargate and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. The work is accompanying an exhibition by the museum that challenges the notions of fact and fiction.

“We were approached by the museum as part of their planning for an exhibition called ‘From Stargate to Comics: The Egyptian Gods in the Geek Culture,’” said Hermanns Christophe, CEO and owner of 3D-printing studio Vigo Universal in a recent interview. “In preparation for it, they came to us earlier this year and asked if we could use 3D printing to create a replica of the Stargate. We’re always excited about using 3D printing for unique projects, so we were happy to get involved.”

“The biggest challenge was that we had no plans to work from,” Christophe said. “The only source materials we had were the movie and whatever images we could find on the internet. From that, we had to create everything for the 3D printing. This wasn’t a toy — this was something that had to look good as part of an exhibition, and had to be built to last.”

Vigo International was able to complete the work in thanks to the use of their Flashforge 3D printer. For more on the story seee:

MatterHackers Launches 3D Design Competition

Posted by Editor On August - 25 - 2016

Brandy Leigh Scott announces the Within Reach Design Challenge launched by MatterHackers that will give designers a chance to help others live better lives

The story made headline news on ABC7 with an interview with MatterHacker’s Mara Hitner and David Gaylord explaining the design challenge and its origin.

The challenge origin is on behalf of Hitner’s friend Brandy Leigh Scott, who suffers from Dupuytren’s contracture, a rare condition that causes the hands to bind into fists. Everyday items such as round doorknobs create challenges to function normally for people like Scott. MatterHacker has initiated the Within Reach Design Challenge for two categories of 3D designers, adult and youth-aged, to submit their ideas for design improvement of commonplace objects or original tools to assist people with limited use of their hands. Prizes include 3D printers from Ultimaker, MatterControl T10 3D Printer Controllers, MatterHackers PRO Series Filament, and MatterHackers gift cards.

To find out more about how to enter the Within Reach Design Challenge, visit MatterHackers at

    UK Copyright Ruling Presents Challenges to 3D Printing

    Posted by Editor On August - 9 - 2016

    UK Copyright Ruling Presents Challenges to 3D Printing

    The Eames chair, pictured here, becomes one of the many industrially-designed items given extended protection under new copyright ruling

    As reported today by Glyn Moody writing for, a recent court ruling in the United Kingdom has extended the copyright protections on industrially-designed objects such as tables and chairs, extending their creator’s claim of ownership to 70 years beyond their lifetime. According to Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge, it represents “a direct assault on the 3D printing revolution.”

    Falkvinge says, “This change means that people will be prohibited from using 3D printing and other maker technologies to manufacture such objects, and that for a full century.”

    The difference in the law has to do with the variance between “design rights” and copyrights. With design rights, “you’re absolutely and one hundred percent free to make copies of it for your own use with your own tools and materials,” Falkvinge writes. “When something is under copyright, you are not. Therefore, this move is a direct assault on the 3D printing revolution.”

    For a white paper on current 3D printing law, please visit:

    Making 3D Printing Sexy

    Posted by Editor On July - 10 - 2016

    Making 3D Printing Sexy

    SexyCyborg is making the art of 3D printing an attractive venture

    Making 3D Printing Sexy

    SexyCyborg is a scientist in China who is turning heads with her impressive 3D printing ideas. Working as a web developer in Shenzhen, she spends her off time haunting the nearby SEG electronics markets looking for ideas that make a statement, such as when she first showed up a year ago on sporting her LED Hikaru Skirt featuring a 3D-printed battery pack that lit the LED lights tucked inside the skirt. That she is also turning heads with her augmented breasts and scantily-clad, anime-looking frame is the reason redditors like her spawn the need for such forum threads as “/r/UNBGBBIIVCHIDCTIICBG” (Upvoted Not Because Girl, But Because It Is Very Cool – However, I Do Concede That I Initially Clicked Because Girl).

    Making 3D Printing Sexy

    Making 3D Printing Sexy

    Her recent reddit posts have only added to her growing stardom as a redditor favorite. Last month she joined a Global Reddit Meetup in Shenzhen and showed off her cooking skills. Prior to that, she paraded around her newest creation, a 3D-printed nano-drone wrist-pack as she competed in the microdevice flying competition.

    Making 3D Printing Sexy

    But the innovation that sets her apart and brings her well-deserved acclaim in 3D printing is her pair of 3D-printed high-heel wedges sporting secret compartments for a variety of items generally carried by career spies. Inside the black shoes are a wireless router, battery pack, keystroke recorder, ethernet connector reel, and lock picks, which she is proud to say she knows how to use. According to SexyCyborg, “So I devised the Wu Ying Shoes (无影鞋)! – Penetration Testing Platform Heels! Wu Ying means ‘shadowless,’ the name is from the folk hero Wong Fei Hung’s (黄飞鸿) famous ‘shadowless kick’ (无影脚). Wong Fei Hung is from Foshan, which is my ancestral home as well as the ancestral home of Bruce Lee.

    “As legend has it, to execute the ‘shadowless kick’ Wong would distract his opponent with a punch or upper body move while striking with his foot. With my shadowless shoes I distract the target with my… upper body and they don’t see the real danger on my feet:-) Also I get tired of English names for everything. If we are ever going to stop copying Western things we should stop copying Western names as well right? So ‘Wu Ying Shoes.'”

    Making 3D Printing Sexy

    For an in-depth interview with SexyCyborg about 3D printing, additional body modifications she is entertaining, and the Shenzhen makerspace scene, visit

    Making 3D Printing Sexy

    For a photo essay of her celebrated 3D-printed body scan, visit

    Making 3D Printing Sexy

    To connect with SexyCyborg personally, visit with her at her Reddit account at

    Neri Oxman and the Masking of Björk

    Posted by Editor On July - 2 - 2016

    Neri Oxman and the Masking of Björk

    Neri Oxman projects an intrusion into the consciousness of design. With the use of 3D printing technology, her visionary expeditions into the realms of fashion are nothing less than breathtaking. Complementing her call of otherworldly sirens has been the voice of Icelandic artist Björk.

    Neri Oxman and the Masking of Björk

    According to Katie Armstrong writing for, Björk will be adorned in 3D printed attire for her upcoming digital shows BJÖRK DIGITAL an event series running from June 29 to July 18, 2016. The pioneering event marks a world first, as the first-ever event to be broadcast live via 360-degree virtual reality streaming as well as a live event in Australia. Inspired by Björk’s most recent album, Vulnicura, Neri Oxman and her team Mediated Matter Group used 3D scans of Björk’s face to create digital interpretations of her bone and tissue structure, with the customized design brought to life with Stratasys’ unique full-color, multi-material 3D printing technology.

    Neri Oxman and the Masking of Björk

    To see the full story on Björk’s mask, visit:

    Neri Oxman and the Masking of Björk

    Top Five 3D Printing Trends

    Jewelry design by Desmond Chan. For more on software that catches moving objects, see our story on Chronolab by Autodesk Researchers.

    It seems like every week new 3D printers, 3D modeling apps and materials are getting announced. We are drowning in an information overflow about the newest model or filament on the market – and of course everyone has a different opinion about which trend will dominate the 3D printing market in 2016 and beyond. On crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo more than 50 different 3D printing projects are currently being launched.

    In order to find some structure in the chaos, we scanned the most important 3D printing blogs and journal articles about today’s 3D printing industry trends and compiled a list of what we think are the five topics most likely to shape the world of 3D printing from 2016 to 2020.

    But before we start talking about the future, we also need to acknowledge how 3D printing is already changing our world. Car manufacturers use 3D printing to produce rare spare parts or prototypes for upcoming cars, airplane manufacturers like Airbus even use end parts printed in 3D. And of course 3D printing also heavily impacts the healthcare sector – in fact, most hearing aid devices are 3D printed and many implants already get printed in titanium.

    What Will Happen with 3D Printing in the Next Few Years: Top Five Trends to Watch

    The recent past has taught us that 3D printing works best when we talk about printing objects that need to be completely customized or unique (like implants, prototypes, or customized jewelry), or that would be too complicated to produce otherwise (3D printing is in fact great for complex designs with interlocking parts).

    Based on numerous interviews with leaders and trendsetters in the 3D printing ecosystem, it is likely that we will soon see the following five 3D printing trends play a major role in the industry:

    Firstly, new 3D printing materials will emerge. Printing in metals is already a reality (titanium, steel, gold, you name it), but I think we will see more development using organic materials for printing skin and organs. Multi-material 3D printing will be another interesting trend to watch.

    Secondly, the machines will become more powerful: 3D printers will be able to print faster, better, and larger. Our latest addition, Smooth Detail Resin, is substantial proof of this point: its surfaces are smooth, its prints are very detailed (50 microns!), and the printing time is getting faster.

    Thirdly, it’s quite likely that prices for 3D printing will come down even further. We’re simply talking economy of scale here. Sales of 3D printers (both for private and industrial use) will continue to boost and therefore prices will probably fall in the long run.

    This is still a major hurdle for many people. 3D modeling is not yet as easy and accessible as it should be. But I am hopeful that this will change soon. At the moment many 3D modeling programs simply ignore the 3D printing community.

    They are designed for animators and graphic designers – and it can be really tough to make these models printable. But since an increasing amount of 3D designers create models with 3D printing in mind, more and more plugins and online apps that are easy to use are being developed. Even big companies like Windows or Photoshop are currently developing design solutions for 3D printing. This new competition will force established 3D modeling software programs to follow this trend.

    Last but not least I want to talk about applications. In the next years we will see that 3D printers will be used for things that were far beyond our imagination in the past. In a short period of time we went from a pixelated Yoda figurine in plastic to cutting-edge high-precision metal printing. I think this trend will continue: what some people may see like a hobby for makers will change our lives in ways that we cannot even think of now. Only time will tell, but looking back at all that has happened over the last few years it’s pretty sure we can say: we will be surprised yet again!

    So as you can see, the world of 3D printing is still far from reaching its full potential. Quite simply, there is still so much to be discovered and developed. The next years will probably bring even faster, high-quality 3D printing and new breath-taking materials. In all likelihood everyone will come into contact with a 3D printed object in the next years in one way or another – with or without actually knowing it.
    This story reprinted from, available at: