3D Printing Fine Art Sculptures

The 3D printing facility is a major part of the Digital Innovation Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University. The 3D printing service, gives all students and staff free access to all of the high-end software needed to prepare 3D files plus the state-of-the-art hardware needed for printing.

It was envisioned that mostly architecture students would be using the facility to create 3D prints of their designs, but many other users have been discovered. One such explorer is Professor Keith Brown who has been using 3D printing to create fine art sculptures from digital concepts.

Professor Brown commented “The integration of Hobs’ 3D Printing facilities into MMU’s Digital Innovation Centre has proved to be a welcome initiative in bridging the gap between academia and the private sector. Having spent some time in the Centre over the past months, preparing my own work for 3D colour printing, I have found Hobs to be friendly, helpful, very knowledgeable, and above all they exude a contagious enthusiasm and obvious passion for their profession; ever ready to advise and assist on the production of their 3D work.”

The use of 3D technologies is an essential aspect of Keith’s creative practice and is indispensable to the conception, content, and quality of the artwork. Keith explains “The focus of my digital sculptures lies within the discovery and realization of new three‐dimensional entities and deals with the appropriateness of medium in relation to process. The combination of computer modelling and 3D print opens pathways to explore new methodologies for the creation of physical objects that could neither be conceived nor made manifest by traditional means.

Preparing CAD models for 3D printing invariably requires further file manipulation, to search for and fix any errors in preparation for conversion into printer code. “There’s a great deal more to it than simply clicking on the ‘print job’ button. Hobs offers a highly professional technical service to assist with any issues and ensure a successful outcome. Their resident staff offer a wide range of expert skills, not just in the 3D print and post-production processes, but also an advanced understanding of most popular CAD applications.”

3D Printed Fine Art Sculpture

Professor Brown explains the background to 3D Printing Fine Art Sculptures:

My main concern is with Real Virtuality or Cyberealism, rather than Virtual Reality, which means reversing the usual order between the cyber and the real. My intention is to explore the possibilities made available through computing technologies and bring these to a form of manifest actuality. This results in the production of a new order of object, presenting us with new forms, realities, experiences, and meanings in what must be considered a paradigm shift within the discipline of fine art sculpture.

My digital sculptures are born out of the direct manipulation of geometry in a multi‐dimensional cyber space where material, as we understand it, does not exist. In the cyber environment 3D entities may be encouraged to behave in ways not achievable through physical means. These virtual sculptures, made manifest through 3D printing technology, act as a vehicle which transports us to this strange and wonderful “other place” where physics, materiality and gravity, play no part, freeing form from material constraints, and transcending our given understanding of how material objects behave in the world.

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