December 25 3D Printing Update!

I can't believe it is already about 3 months since I got my very own 3D printer! After much research and comparing products, my husband recommended we get a TAZ4 by Lulzbot. The base is heated, allowing for better distribution of heat throughout the plastic and easier release of the printed object upon cooling. This printer is also much larger than the Makerbot we occasionally had on loan, is Open Source (I'll explain more about this further down) accommodates a second print head, allowing for the possibility of creating in dual color, and is a heavier duty home machine. This is for serious home printing. Read more here if you are thinking about this printer:

https://www.lulzbot.com/products/lulzbot-taz-4-3d-printer?gclid=Cj0KEQiAiO-kBRCNxtaJp4-En6sBEiQAnkvW30sb3I204oDgN2dfDXNooRBaLUUQdY6MHf1rOyO8LpAaAn558P8HAQ

My husband spent a good many hours figuring this machine out. You really need someone with a techie brain in order to use a 3D printer! All sorts of challenges came up that involved him eventually taking the entire thing apart. We have already had to replace the metal head, as they clog easily. It is imperative that you become familiar with plastic sizes/types in order to avoid this. He also printed a larger, better fan after finding out the one that the machine comes with is not good enough to keep the temperature consistent. Right now, it is the users who know the most about 3D printers. They are the on-line source to go to for assistance.

At the beginning, we were using Thingiverse open source plans for pieces, then we moved on to manipulating files, and now he is ahead of me in that he is learning how to design originals. We are almost at the point at which I will begin to learn how to program, a venture I believe will be really difficult, as my brain doesn't work that way! My husband recently designed and executed the scene for this holiday diorama for the company he works for. He is the VP of Future Experiences at Moxie USA.

Handy guy to have around.... http://moxieusa.com/holidaycard

We also watched the documentary Print The Legend, and were so happy we made the decision NOT to go with the brand Makerbot. Makerbot pushes marketing/advertising, and it works because their brand is being defined as "the" 3D printer, much what Kleenex is to tissue, but your best bet is to research the WHOLE company and what is available, and their consumer ethics. If you can't source plans and templates without paying big bucks for them, you are stuck. Makerbot sold out. Which brings me to what Open Source is: 

  1. denoting software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified

something Makerbot USED TO have, and claimed they would always have, before they sold out to no longer have!

The learning goes on, in the meantime, check out my 3D printing gallery here on my site to see what I have done....more is in the works and I will load new photos as pieces are completed and photographed! 

 

 

 

 

Life as we know it is changing, thanks to a small machine.

A couple of years ago I heard about this wild, new technology called 3D printing. It excited me, but was so completely out of my reach: far too expensive and much too technical for my peanut brain, I have no CAD experience, and no money to pay people to create renderings and computer models for me. No way....right? As a child of the 60's, the futuristic implications were all too enticingly Jetsonian....I used to avidly watch the cartoon and clearly remember feeling that their life felt familiar to me, not "out of this world" at all! Fast forward, into the present...infinity and the beyond are HERE! and the idea of owning a 3D printer is no longer out of my world.

Remember their "magically appearing dinners"? The first concept of a microwave, and soon you will eat a 3D printed meal, in Jetson style! Poof! Voila!

Remember their "magically appearing dinners"? The first concept of a microwave, and soon you will eat a 3D printed meal, in Jetson style! Poof! Voila!

As an artist who loves the process of experimenting and is very interested in how I can make materials do things they are not supposed to do, find new applications on old materials, and the old-time-y processes of handicraft such as sewing, embroidery, weaving and more in exciting applications that push boundaries, 3D printing is perfect for me. 

So, what IS 3D printing....just a bunch of stupid and useless figurines to play with, right?

Yes, useless toys and tschotskes seem to be where 3D printing has taken off...I believe it is so as they are familiar, easy, accessible, and because that is what commercial venues are offering consumers wanting a taste of what the technology is all about. That will change as it evolves and more sophisticated options open up to the public.

Yes, useless toys and tschotskes seem to be where 3D printing has taken off...I believe it is so as they are familiar, easy, accessible, and because that is what commercial venues are offering consumers wanting a taste of what the technology is all about. That will change as it evolves and more sophisticated options open up to the public.

My first 3D print. Adapted from Thingiverse, an online platform of 3D printed pieces available to the public for adaptation and use.

My first 3D print. Adapted from Thingiverse, an online platform of 3D printed pieces available to the public for adaptation and use.

That same piece of 3D printing, with a heavily stitched fabric work of mine embedded into it, done in Free Motion Stitching  -- a method of using a sewing machine and thread to create rich textures, designs and drawings on materials -- and hand embroidery to finish it off- The French Knot.

That same piece of 3D printing, with a heavily stitched fabric work of mine embedded into it, done in Free Motion Stitching  -- a method of using a sewing machine and thread to create rich textures, designs and drawings on materials -- and hand embroidery to finish it off- The French Knot.

The final piece. That piece above and more pieces have been embedded into resin that I hand colored and set in a glowing, color-changing Lucite tray. See more details of this piece on my website at www.monaleisa.com 

The final piece. That piece above and more pieces have been embedded into resin that I hand colored and set in a glowing, color-changing Lucite tray. See more details of this piece on my website at www.monaleisa.com 

That is what some believe. What I believe, is that this technology is in its infancy, that it will completely revolutionize Everything, that it will positively impact our manufacturing, medical world, means of travel, and so on. It will prove less costly and will be less of a drain on the environment, and it will be to our lives in the (near) future, what computers are to us today. We can't live without them. After all....who ever thought almost every home would have a computer when they first started really hitting every day life 20 or so years ago?!

Click on this: Here is an overview of 3D printing. 

I kept talking with my husband about what a great thing it was, but also as a stock buying opportunity for us. Still in its "infancy" there is no clear "leader" although Makerbot seems to be dominating the industry as the main 3D printer of choice for the institutions and individuals already availing themselves of the technology on a lay basis. There are TONS of Kickstarters featuring 3D printing as everyone races to be the fastest entry into the industry, or at least....the most financed?!

Then, a few months ago, my husband was given an incredible opportunity within the company he works for to head up a Future Experiences division, a new position that included gaining knowledge and experience in 3D printing and applying that to advertising. It was serendipity. (Great timing too, as we just became empty nesters after 27 years of raising children. You will find us, in our jammies, checking our printing in the middle of the night, eerie glowing light of the printer illuminating our fevered faces....well, at least we aren't wondering what the heck we have in common post-kids nor worrying too excessively about what our kids are getting into!)

Fast forward to today, September 21, 2014. Here are some of the pieces I have made thus far. As I write this, our new 3D printer is speeding its way here! No, we didn't buy a Makerbot, but a Lulzbot TAZ 4. Its features convinced us that it was the right printer for the things I am conceiving in my head.

A bone slice I created.

A bone slice I created.

Embedded into resin.

Embedded into resin.

3D printed bone slices, a brain I cast in resin, embedded into dyed resin, in a Lucite shadow box. It changes color depending on the light, where it is placed....so cool! 

3D printed bone slices, a brain I cast in resin, embedded into dyed resin, in a Lucite shadow box. It changes color depending on the light, where it is placed....so cool! 

A few portions of the pieces used in the following art work

A few portions of the pieces used in the following art work

Imbedded into resin into vintage appetizer trays, circa The Jetsons!

Imbedded into resin into vintage appetizer trays, circa The Jetsons!

I then photographed the 3D printed pieces, manipulated them in Photoshop, heat transferred them on to cloth, free motion embellished them and set them into the larger "food" portions of the tray..

I then photographed the 3D printed pieces, manipulated them in Photoshop, heat transferred them on to cloth, free motion embellished them and set them into the larger "food" portions of the tray..

Detail

Detail

Installation in progress- I hope to grow this to be quite large! The shadows are amazing....

Installation in progress- I hope to grow this to be quite large! The shadows are amazing....

In progress

In progress

In progress- note the carved wood bases and PVC pipe that will hold some fabric tentacles....this will not look anything the same when I am done....stay tuned!

In progress- note the carved wood bases and PVC pipe that will hold some fabric tentacles....this will not look anything the same when I am done....stay tuned!

detail

detail

Fooling around with some ideas....

Fooling around with some ideas....

Listen UP! From Thingiverse....an ear, ready to go. I am working on curating an exhibition on invisible disabilities called Invisible: VisAble that will be in Atlanta next April at Mason Murer Gallery. You can be sure you will see many pink ears there! 

Listen UP! From Thingiverse....an ear, ready to go. I am working on curating an exhibition on invisible disabilities called Invisible: VisAble that will be in Atlanta next April at Mason Murer Gallery. You can be sure you will see many pink ears there! 

So, what are the cons of this technology? ARE there any....?

Well, as of now, 3D printers can utilize a variety of materials and that is advancing daily as more materials are added. One of those materials -- the most common one -- is PLASTIC, a "dirty" word in today's society! However, new advancements in plant-based, biodegradable materials that work like plastic that will replace PLA are already available and will soon become mainstream and replace harmful plastics. Concrete, metal, meat, chocolate, these are already THERE. I will be able to print myself a knee replacement (better sooner than later!) You will print your clothes when you wake up in the morning, thus leading to zero waste, zero pollution, zero distribution....

3D printers print on demand, which means less storage, less distribution needs, more efficient, easier on the environment. 

This technology will advance so quickly, it will only be those with money who can stay caught up, a situation similar to computers...once yours gets too old, it won't do anything new...

I know that I am excited, and learning more each day. I am definitely a newbie to this, and I am ready for the technology that will allow me to scan something with my phone and send it right to my printer (since I am no techie!) That way, I can scan one of my existing artworks, tweak it on the computer, and send the manipulated version for a brand new adaptation, hurtling to reality.

I hope you'll come along for my ride!

Remember that earlier image? Well, meet The Ladies of the Night! Candy Corn, Lola Lollipop, Cherry Bombs, Happy High and Portia Puff. 

Remember that earlier image? Well, meet The Ladies of the Night! Candy Corn, Lola Lollipop, Cherry Bombs, Happy High and Portia Puff.