In the next decade or two, you may be able to fire up your own 3-D printer to make replacement parts for home appliances, create a toy for your kid or even create your own jewelry from your own designs. That’s all possible, according to author, innovator and digital artist Isaac Budmen.
“There are no limits to what this technology may do in the future,” Budmen told a group at the Polk State College’s Arts Incubator and High-Impact Speaker Series at the PSC Advanced Technology Center Wednesday.
In its infancy, the 3-D printing process involved creating three- dimensional objects from a computer file using additive processes in which the object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object takes shape. The layers are seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the object being created.
Budmen says he is obsessed with bringing the digital into the physical world and the physical into the digital world. And he did before the filled ATC auditorium. A 3-D printer created an eagle in vibrant red that was designed at his artist workshop on Tuesday in PSC’s Lake Wales Art Center.
Budmen, who coauthored the book “The Book on 3-D Printing,” maintains that three-dimensional printing is the intersection of art, science and technology.
“That’s where we are today,” he said. “no telling where we’ll be tomorrow.”
In his 45-minute presentation, Budmen showed some practical applications of the technology, including a web-like rigid cast that could hold a broken limb as safely and securely as the archaic plaster used today. He also showed an instance where a West Coast advocate used three-dimensional printing to create an artificial hand for his handicapped son.
“The cost of a similar prosthetic device bought on the market today would be in the tens of thousands of dollars,” he said, “But this man created one at home for less than a hundred.”
Budmen also explained that the printing process uses fine filaments that are transferred to a solid base not unlike a glue gun.
“It takes the filament, heats it, extrudes it onto a surface and repeats that layer after layer, until the object is created,”he said.
He also showed the attendees how he had created his own desk-top sized 3-D printer and was hoping to create a much larger one for future use at his work. In addition to being an inventor, he presently is an artist with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and has exhibited his works at the London Science Museum,the Westmoreland Museum of American Art and the Confabulation Symposium on 3-D Printing show.
It is possible that in the future, anyone will be able to translate computer images into ‘gcode’ and that program will feed into a printer to create any object.
He also showed slides of objects created via the science-fiction process, including 3-D “busties” which are small busts created via the printer using photographic images., sandals and watch bands.
“3-D expands every day,” he said, “We use it at the museum often.”
He elaborated as the museum had created a model of the ancient Holden Observatory after translating data acquired by repeated drone flights into gcodes and fed into a printer.
He also said the technology was being used to create a three-dimensional model of trees in a Vincent Van Gogh painting that reproduces the artist’s brush strokes so a blind museum patron could “see” the master’s work.
Budmen also talked about how the first 3-D printer was developed in a creative informal lab called a “makerspace.” He said a “makerspace” is a facility where like-minded artists or inventors banded together and pooled resources to create a workspace where they could create and divide the costs of equipment that individually, each artisan could not afford.
Budmen concluded his presentation by saying that the new digital technology would also challenge the workplace and existing business models.
“Once this technology is out there, it’s going to be much harder for businesses to maintain their autonomy in production,” he said. He cited as an example, a toy maker who had proprietary and trademark claims on merchandise.
“The toy maker knows that with the 3- D printing capability, almost anyone can now reproduce products they once held. So, they have opened themselves up by asking creators to work with them in creating new iterations of their toys.”
That’s the wave of the future, he concluded, “and we’re all going to have to embrace it.”