3D printing is everywhere…

Published December 17, 2012

3D Printing – An Article by Kate Hird

3D printing is everywhere. Watching television just this week I saw Will-i-am’s new music video with Britney Spears, which includes a section of the 3D printing in action, building a human face before the viewers’ eyes. With the media picking up on this exciting new method it is clear 3D printing is bursting onto the scene and is becoming ever more popular.

What’s more Exeter is a centre for developing this 3D printing. Exeter Phoenix’s annual Digital Art Commission has partnered up with University of Exeter’s Centre for Additive layer Manufacturing (CALM) to bring Neoreplicants, giving thirty South West based artists the opportunity to explore these new technologies to enhance their art practice and production.

The official name for this method of 3D printing is Additive Layer Manufacturing. It is a method that combines the digital and physical and, at the simplest level, involves fabricating objects from computer screen to reality. Starting with a design on the computer, thin layers of plastic powder (the ‘magic dust’) is formed into two dimensional plates which gradually builds and layers up to form the 3D shapes.

Sarah Flint, commercial manager of CALM, said the brilliance of Additive Layer Manufacturing “makes things that are impossible to make in other ways” and it this versatility which makes the method so effective. From artist’s creative works to business models, medical implants and aeroplane manufacturing the method can cater to everyone’s needs. It is also a faster method of production, which uses less material and reduces carbon footprint.

A popular story in the news is the 3D designed violin (see the video here >>). Specialist violinmakers say the sound quality does not have the same depth of tone or quality and that plastic violins will not replace the generations of craft and expertise. Even so, these ambitious projects show the potential of this new design form. Some have gone as far to say this is the next industrial revolution in production – the idea of small communities having one 3D printing machine to produce their own goods, which could replace factories.

The Neoreplicants exhibition at Exeter Phoenix hosts an array of artist’s 3D work, some experimental sketches and some finished artworks in their own right. There are beautiful reflections on nature, fashion accessories, jewellery, businesses models and more intricate objects.

Some of the artists said they developed a completely new approach to their practices through this project. One artist, Maia Conran, has been selected to take the concept further by developing a solo exhibition in 2013. In her work for the NeoReplicants Exhibition, she aimed to blur the lines between the virtual and the physical by creating a cinema space within the gallery and she will expand on this for her new exhibition.

Make sure you visit the exhibition at the Phoenix to see what this new, revolutionary practice can produce.


Listings Information

Phoenix Gallery: Neoreplicants: 16 Nov- 19 Jan

Entry is FREE

Galleries are open Mon-Sat, 10am – 5pm

More information here >>