Since I started working at Art Center, I’ve become more interested in incorporating Rapid Prototyping techniques into my practice. By RP, I mean methods of fabricating 3D elements from computer models or 2D diagrams (done in Illustrator, Sketchup, SolidWorks, etc.). I audited a 3D modeling studio last Fall, for example. While in that class, I was exposed to a few new techniques. I am already familiar with laser-cutting and CNC Milling techniques, and employ them frequently in my work. So I was more interested in learning about Plaster and FDM printing.
The first thing we worked with was 3d Plaster Printing, which lays out and hardens layers of plaster. These are very sensitive and need to be bonded/hardened afterwards. The process is (relatively) very cheap and the turnover is quick. I made a few little succulent planters based on a form from my last big project. I imagine they could be tiled in different configurations.
Perhaps more useful though was FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) printing, which is more like hard plastic. By printing subsequent cross-sections of plastic material, you can build up 3D form. The result is really resilient and tough. I was most interested in printing housing and custom parts for holding electronics and sensors in place.
Below are a few tests. They don’t look very pretty but they’re not designed to be seen. The large boxy one for example, is designed specifically to hold the Veggietronix Soil Moisture sensor upright in a new sculpture that i’m building. There is a chamber around the sensor that will collect water and slowly allow it to drip out of the bottom.