Reflections on using the Ultimaker 3D Printer

Neo-Politans

Neo-Politans, Alice Woods, 2016. 3D Printed PLA, Resin, Paint, 35 x 20 x 3cm

As an artist or maker, 3D printing has been an incredibly exciting development in home production. We can now manufacture completely unique objects straight from our own studios and enjoy unlimited variations in the testing and experimentation phase. However, where mainstream manufacturing compartmentalises each process into specialised divisions, to truly take ownership of production, 3D printers need to take every stage of the process into their own hands. This is an exciting (if challenging) prospect. The opportunity to develop the understanding and skills to design, print and finish to a factory standard is an exercise in patience, perseverance and lots of creative problem solving. These are some of my reflections of each part of the process:

Designing 

Learning how to use CAD (computer-aided design) software can initially be the most time consuming part of 3D printing if you have no previous knowledge. I had a good understanding of 2D programs which stood me in good stead in terms of geometric calculations but the actual experience of designing in 3D requires a whole new mindset. I primarily use Rhino to design my 3D printed objects as it is very versatile. It took me a few days of watching YouTube tutorials to get going with fairly simple objects and then just by regular use and need I learnt how to construct much more complex structures.

Printing

Printing on the Ultimaker is very straight forward (the hard bit is ensuring your object is suitable for 3D printing). After exporting your object from your CAD program Cura will prepare your object for printing – you can use the preset settings (which are a helpful to start) and then begin to tinker with layer height, speed, temperature etc when you get to know the nuances of your machine. 

As with anything, time and experience will naturally improve the success of your printed objects. You come to understand how much detail the printer can capture and how well it can deal with overhangs without compromising quality, as well as things like what speed is appropriate and what material works best.

When creating larger items I have tended to make these in multiple parts. This is so if a print goes wrong you don’t have to waste filament printing perfectly good parts of the structure again. After I have all my parts I fix them together with resin. 

Finishing 

This perhaps is the most important phase if you are using the Ulitmaker to produce art objects. Once you have a sound structure that is fit for purpose, how do you actually make it look how you would like? Perhaps you would like to reveal that your object is 3D printed in which case your work is probably nearly done, but if you would like the smooth moulded look of factory plastic this is where the work really begins. 

Over time I have achieved a fairly reliable routine of:

  1. Quick sanding with a Dremel (or by hand depending on delicacy) 
  2. Filling any imperfections with polyfilla and hand sanding 
  3. Coating with XTC-3D resin to eliminate the 3D printing layer lines
  4. Sanding again if necessary (for instance if the XTC-3D resin has built up too much in one place and to eliminate the occasional bubble)
  5. Priming with resin or plastic primer
  6. Painting  

My experience of using the Ultimaker to create art objects has been one of positivity and optimism. On a critical level it has allowed my practice to become more self-reliant which has conceptually strengthened the various works I have produced. My key interest of the real economy vs future models is to an extent encapsulated by the possibilities of 3D printing. Just as in Experiments In Aquaponics, 3D printing is a step towards taking responsibility and ownership for the “stuff” in our lives. You make what you are capable of and learn something new each time, and through an understanding of process you come to produce only what you need.

E-Bomb

e-bomb, Alice Woods, 2016. Vinyl Toast, 3D Printed ABS, Pigmented Resin, 42 x 29.7 x 2cm

 

USB-SHUFFLE-SHOW

USB Shuffle Show

USB-SHUFFLE-SHOW (TWO)

HOW MANY MEGABYTES DOES AN ARTPIECE CONSIST OF? HOW MUCH “FREE SPACE“ DOES A USB-DEVICE PROVIDE? IS A USB-STICK A PLACE OF CULTURE? IS IT AN EXHIBITION SPACE? ARE MULTIPLE USB-STICKS AN EXHIBITION – OR EVEN AN ART FAIR?

THE SECOND EDITION WILL TAKE PLACE:

FROM JANUARY 24TH TO 26TH 2014
AT INSTITUT FÜR ALLES MÖGLICHE / ABTEILUNG FÜR ALLES ANDERE
ACKERSTR. 18, BERLIN-MITTE
AS PART OF THE TRANSMEDIALE VORSPIEL 2014

OPENING: JANUARY 24TH / 7 – 10 PM
HOURS: JANUARY 25TH / 3 – 8 PM AND 26TH / 2 – 6 PM

MORE INFO: http://usb.i-a-m.tk/

Gameboy Color (Limited Edition Hardback)

Hi there 🙂 I have just finished a new interactive work to be shown at the HYPE exhibition at Chelsea College of Art and Design in London, during freshers week. The show runs from 23rd – 28th September and the opening event is actually on the last night on the 27th from 5:30 – 8:30pm! Hope to see some of you there 😀

Gameboy Color (Limited Edition Hardback) 2

Gameboy Color (Limited Edition Hardback)
Hardback Book, MaKey MaKey Microprocessor, Computer, Graphite, Wiring Components

Stemming from research into how technologies define society I am creating a series of pieces which mix technological devices from different eras. In this interactive installation the audience can use a book to control a computer. When the printed word became common place the world changed drastically just as it did with the introduction of the computer and the internet. In this work the viewer can use a preceding technology to control a new one and the book becomes an input device into its technological successor. All new technologies absorb elements of the old allowing the user to experience something familiar before grasping new functionalities and uses. Here the book acts as a gamepad controller and emulates that of the 1998 Nintendo Gameboy Color, so if you are a child of the nineties you can experience the nostalgia of Mario, Kirby & Pokemon in a whole new way.

This work is made using a MaKey MaKey, an Arduino based microprocessor, specifically designed for altering computer inputs.

 

Gameboy Color (Limited Edition Hardback) is an Interactive Installation by Alice Woods

WeAreNotListening – The Redesign & The Art Hackathon Showcase!

For the Art Hackathon Showcase we undertook a complete redesign due to the dangerous and potentially flammable nature of our original device! The heating element was replaced by a miniature shredder and the structure of the machine was reduced, formalised and made into one complete object. The night was a massive success with hundreds of people texting in to get things off their chest from within the event, and from afar where people were watching on the live stream. Keep your eyes peeled at http://www.wearenotlistening.com for further info on when the machine is next being exhibited, for now I’ll leave you with a photo and video round-up of the final project:

9527043838_a315e82b2f_b Some last minute tinkering (Photo: Paul Clarke http://www.paulclarke.com)

9524476677_46fea14e34_bThe texts are coming in! (Photo: Paul Clarke http://www.paulclarke.com)

This was our original design and pitch at the end of the hackathon weekend:

And this is the final WeAreNotListening installation in action:

DSC_1803

Bye for now 🙂 Look out on the 3beards YouTube site for more info on the Art Hackathon plus highlights from the opening night at The South Place Hotel.