Francesco de Comité is an Associate Professor in Computer Science at the University of Lille (France). He has a degree in Maths and a PhD in Computer Science, and his research focuses on the representation of mathematical concepts in real life with renders, 3D prints or ‘physical objects’. He started working in this field nearly 10 years ago, first by making 2D renders of math objects. But after these first attempts, he realised the need to go further with his research. “If you want to understand a mathematical object by means of 2D views, you have to produce a lot of 2D renders or an animation.” Then I began to look at the possibilities brought by 3D printing. Handling a 3D object allows you to see all its aspects at the same time,” Francesco explains about his first experiences with 3D printing. His 3D printing often begins with a programming challenge. “In general, I want to make mathematics tangible, by letting people manipulate the objects. 3D printing is often the only tool to build very difficult or nearly impossible objects.” “In general, I want to make mathematics tangible, by letting people manipulate the objects. 3D printing is often the only tool to build very difficult or nearly impossible objects.” The beauty of mathematics All Francesco’s objects are the result of procedural work: they are all programmed at a very low level, using Python within Blender or Grasshopper and C++ within Rhino. The programming part of the job is the more important phase because here is where the mathematical concepts are coded, tested and improved. The result of his work is always a beautiful piece of art: “Art is just a by-product, the beauty comes from the maths behind”, explains De Comité. “Art is just a by-product, the beauty comes from the maths behind” 3D printing mathematical figures in Multicolor+ One of the 3D printing projects that Francesco is working on at the moment are 3D-printed shells, designed with the help of mathematics. This idea is nothing new, but with the help of 3D printing, Francesco can go a step further. A century ago, D’Arcy Thompson, the pioneer of mathematical biology, described how the shape of a seashell is the result of a closed curve rotating in a spiral around an axis, while growing in size. Thirty years ago, Hans Meinhardt also showed in his book, ‘The Algorithmic Beauty of Seashells’, how the patterns decorating seashells can be described with simple differential equations, as Alan Turing did previously from a more general scope. None of them had 3D printing tools available during their time but De Comité does: “I was feeling that I could now gather both approaches in a synthetic work, and write programs for 3D-printed decorated seashells. I also wanted to write a single program that could represent all, or at least a large part, of the existing seashells. The task is quite successful now, even if I still need to acquire some practice.” The advantages of new, full-color 3D printing Multicolor+ was a great discovery for Francesco and his 3D-printed shells. Other full-color 3D printers on the market make models which are bigger and heavier than normal shells, especially because they require a minimum wall thickness of 3mm, which is far thicker than real seashells. “Since Multicolor+ only asks for 1mm wall thickness, I can design a model three times smaller and 27 times less heavy. Much closer to the size of real seashells!” specifies De Comité. He recommends respecting the wall thickness as the main trick to get the perfect Multicolor+ 3D print. Since Multicolor+ only asks for 1mm wall thickness, I can design a model three times smaller and 27 times less heavy Apart from the shells, he has also designed and printed other mathematical figures such as anamorphoses and cardioidal variations. Keep an eye on Francecso De Comite’s work with shells because he is improving his designs and even working on the Murex shell’s complex spikes. Are you impressed by Francesco’s mathematical figures in Multicolor+? You can also get the perfect 3D print in full color by following these tips and tricks. Once your designs are ready you just have to upload them to our online 3D printing platform and get an instant quote for your prints. If you are not such an advanced designer, you can start step by step with this 3D design tutorial for beginners. Mathematical figures and shells are not the only thing you can 3D print with Multicolor+. Discover all the possibilities of this brand new technology!
For many people, 3D printing just means prototypes and industrial designs, but at i.materialise we’re well aware that this is not true! For us, 3D printing is synonymous with creativity, art, design and even fashion. 3D printing can be used for the design of a beautiful kettle, to create incredible pieces of jewelry, or such as in this case, to bring a pair of dream shoes to life! Read more about the outlandish 3D shoe designs from Alice Van Opstaal. When this student of Shoe Design at the SASK (Stedelijke Academie voor Schone Kunst) in Sint-Niklaas had to create a fantastic shoe collection for a project, she decided to use 3D printing. The results were impressive. Discover Alice Van Opstaal’s wonderland! From a classic book to a piece of fashion With the help of 3D printing, she designed this Flamingo/Hedgehog shoe, which is part of a collection of four different shoe models called “The war against reality”. They’re inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Each shoe depicts the characters and atmosphere of the book and this one is from the chapter called “The Queen’s croquet ground”. Look at the shoes in action on this video! “When looking for inspiration, any medium or art form might inspire me: graphic art, literature, music, theatre, etc. The idea to use the universe of Lewis Carroll was sparked by a theatre performance by Abattoir Fermé, called Alice,” explains the designer. After that, Alice dove into the books of Lewis Carroll, where she rediscovered the original drawings by John Tenniel. She was inspired by them when drawing her sketches and also in her use of textures. They’re inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Each shoe depicts the characters and atmosphere of the book and this one is from the chapter called “The Queen’s croquet ground” 3D printing without boundaries The wonderland of Alice is an absurd, illogical and twisted universe and Alice wanted that to be reflected in the designs. “3D printing allowed me to go all out and use the most complex forms. There were virtually no boundaries.” Alice decided to use 3D printing for these designs because her boyfriend was taking classes in 3D printing and it seemed like a nice idea to have a shared project. Also, 3D printing technology allowed for such an array of possibilities: crazy shapes, extreme height and great strength. After the first sketches, Alice translated the designs into 3D with Fusion 360. The shoes were 3D printed in Polyamide (SLS). “I chose this material mainly because of the price tag, its strength and the possibilities in size because the heel of my Flamingo/Hedgehog shoe is 30 cm high.” 3D printing allowed me to go all out and use the most complex forms. There were virtually no boundaries Another good reason for choosing Polyamide for 3D printing was that Alice also wanted to spray-paint the design herself in a specific color of her choice. The multiple purposes of 3D printing for fashion “This was my first experience with 3D printing but I will definitely use 3D printing in the future. For my shoe designs but also for other design purposes. Hopefully, the price will become more and more affordable in the future.” Alice is currently working on her graduation collection. This time she will use more traditional manufacturing methods like CNC milling to make some wooden heels, but she will rely on 3D-printed parts for the details. We can’t wait to see the results of this project! This is not the first time that we use 3D printing for fashion. Check out the amazing 3D-printed shoes by Katrien Herdewyn and the Vortex dress by Laura Thapthimkuna. Do you have a final project for your studies that you would like to see featured on the blog? Let us know! We also offer a 10% educational discount for students and teachers. You just have to register here with the official email address of your university or school. Once your 3D designs are ready, upload them to our 3D printing platform to get an instant quote in the different 3D printing materials that we offer.
3D printing allows us to dream. Not just because the freedom of design it enables is limitless, but because it’s a good way to test out our ideas and designs in the real world. This is especially useful for product designers like Elia Furgiele. Elia is a Swiss Industrial Designer who uses i.materialise to 3D print prototypes for his designs, and he can tell us a thing or two about how to use 3D printing to improve the design of his products to perfection. He graduated in 2009 from the Technical Industrial Designer (SSSAA) course at CSIA in Lugano. He has worked as a building and industrial designer and since 2016 he is flying solo as a freelance industrial designer. Elia has been designing for 3D printing since high school and is well aware of the important role that 3D printing plays in the process of creating a good design. From idea to 3D print Elia explains a bit more about the 3D design process that he follows: “Usually, I use 3D printing to test dimensions, ergonomics, space, proportions and usability. Using different colors and materials could add value and give a strong identity to my products.” His favourite 3D design software is Creo Parametric.“It’s fast, user-friendly and it allows me to check the design thoroughly in a simple and intuitive way“. He even taught students how to use this design software in a class in collaboration with Parametric Design Suisse. I use 3D printing to test dimensions, ergonomics, space, proportions and usability. Using different colors and materials could add value and give a strong identity to my products. Prototyping for the best design Elia 3D prints his prototypes in Polyamide (SLS) because he can choose from a wide variety of colors and because it’s more affordable than the other materials. “For the final product I can choose the right material in terms of consistency, weight, reflection, color and connotation”. Design is also very important for the perfect 3D print: “Firstly, I would recommend being as clean as possible when creating your design in whatever software. Secondly, it’s important to consider the thickness of your design in order to remove unnecessary material and save money.” Elia also suggests spending some time (and money) to print prototypes before printing a final product with a specific material, to be sure that your product works in real life. For the final product I can choose the right material in terms of consistency, weight, reflection, color and connotation. A 3D printing solution for each design One of his recent projects is a cutlery set. “It was a big challenge because instead of thinking about one element, you have to think about a set of things that need coherence and consistency among them to make them feel part of the same family of ideas. After I had a clear idea, I used 3D printing to test the design!” Another recent design is a card holder. The original idea was to create a magazine holder but due to dimension limitations, Elia 3D printed the card stand instead to test the design. He also 3D printed a mold in standard resin to create the perfectly shaped finished concrete card holder. Design and materials, never-ending ideas 3D printing offers many options for designers in terms of materials, as well as the possibility to create prototypes and short series of products. Elia has a project for an ashtray now and he wants to try alumide and copper for his product design projects. “I also want to use rubber-like materials for some fashion design. Another idea I have is to use ABS for junctions to make a library, a table and a chair”, says Elia. Discover more stories on our blog about prototyping with 3D printing and product design. If you want to follow Elia’s steps and design your models in PTC’s Creo software, you can print your designs directly through i.materialise thanks to the integration of both tools. If you are using another 3D design software, you can easily upload your 3D files to our 3D printing platform and get an instant quote for your 3D prints.
Working in such a dynamic sector like 3D printing, it’s normal that the members of the Materialise team are always exploring the creative side of 3D printing and discovering all its possibilities. This story is a good example of how we use every excuse to get creative with 3D printing. Are we obsessed with 3D printing? Maybe, but it’s just so much fun! Steven Demot works as a multimedia designer at Materialise, and creates art in his free time – most recently with clay modeling. When his fantastic creatures were noticed by product development engineer Nils Faber, he put his 3D scanning and 3D design knowledge and skills to work and made the 3D magic happen. From drawing to 3D print Steven has always drawn fantastical creatures and aliens. A few months ago, he decided to turn his 2D creations into 3D and started sculpting in clay. For this purpose, he chose the design of a big gorilla. Nils scanned the clay figure with a professional 3D scanner and made the first designs of the 3D model using Materialise 3-matic software. After the scan, the file needed to be fixed for 3D printing and the resolution was reduced. By lowering the quantity of triangles to 1/10th, it is possible to reduce the resolution without losing quality. “Then, I added hair to the model with Blender and in the first iteration I could comb and cut the hair like in real life. I just wanted to try how it looked like and it was so much fun!”, explains Nils. Once the model was 3D scanned and fixed it could be handled easily for any purpose: 3D sculpting, painting or uploading for sharing when working in a team or with friends. Nils played with the design by adding some hair to the Model, with stunning results. I added hair to the model and in the first iteration I could comb and cut the hair like in real life. It was so much fun! The final design was 3D printed in Polyamide (MJF) and dyed black. The material was perfect for showing the fine details of the gorilla’s face. Look at this detailed 3D print! Tips for 3D scanning when 3D printing 3D scanning an object is the fastest way to turn a real object into a 3D design, but there are some important things to take into account. As a scanning expert, Nils gives his advice to turn 3D scans into 3D designs. “The holes are the most crucial parts to be careful with and also any internal cavities that can be difficult to reach with the scan.” “Remember to reduce the amount of triangles before fixing the files, and make sure that the models have light, matte colors. Clay was a perfect material to 3D scan because shiny surfaces are much harder to scan.” The creative possibilities of 3D scanning Steven had the idea of turning his clay creation into a pair of bright cufflinks and 3D printing made it possible. The cufflinks were 3D printed in untreated brass. This material was perfect to keep the details of the 3D design, even when the scale and material changed. This process is a good example of the endless applications of 3D scanning a real object. In this case, scaling up and reducing the models is really impressive. The real model is 30 cm, and the 3D scan was made at a 1/1 scale, but since the design has so much detail it can be blown up to be as big as you like. That means it could be turned into a real gorilla! “This is not too different on how models are created for big Hollywood movies,” according to Nils Faber. “The figure in a different size would explain a whole new story and it would be a great creative exercise,” Steven adds. Coloring the models to find the colors that you like is also an ideal application for a 3D scan, or even replicating the models to apply them onto other objects, such as a décor. Steven is very enthusiastic about the applications of the scan: “As an artist it is enjoyable to make fun stuff with 3D models. I am a big fan of pop culture and a mish-mash of things from the past and present!” The figure in a different size would explain a whole new story and it would be a great creative exercise Ready to 3D scan your figures and get creative with your 3D models? Discover the most popular scanners and 3D scanning software to design your 3D prints. Nils used a professional 3D scanner for this project, but you can also get high-quality 3D scans at home. For example, you can use the app Qlone to 3D scan small objects and 3D print them directly with i.materialise. Once the scans are ready, you can upload your files to our 3D printing platform and decide what the best material and size is for them. What would you like to see the 3D scanned gorilla used for? Let us know in the comments!
Using 3D Printing to print architectural models is nothing new, but these models of the Šibenik Cathedral of St. James 3D-printed in transparent resin are breathtaking! A replica of this UNESCO World Heritage Site in Croatia was created for an exhibition and 3D-printed in transparent resin and the results are stunningly detailed. Read on to know more about this creation and the fascinating measurement process for the 3D design, drones included! An architectural landmark of Europe The Cathedral in Šibenik is the most significant Croatian architectural achievement from the 15th and 16th century and one of the most important monumental cathedrals of Europe. “The building was built over a period of 105 years, and is a testimony to the determination, sacrifice and belief of the generations of inhabitants of Šibenik”, remarks Josip Rukavina, the director of the design and measurement process of the Cathedral. The first construction of the cathedral was in Venetian Gothic style, and it was finished in the Tuscan Renaissance style. Three masters – Francesco di Giacomo, Georgius Mathei Dalmaticus and Niccolò di Giovanni Fiorentino – developed a structure built entirely from stone and using unique construction techniques. The need to show all three stages of the cathedral construction has emerged with the opening of a new multimedia centre in Šibenik, a place where visitors will have the opportunity to find out about all the details associated with this unique monument of European sacral architecture. The building was built over a period of 105 years, and is a testimony to the determination, sacrifice and belief of the generations of inhabitants of Šibenik The evolution of the cathedral explained with 3D printing The project was conceived as an interactive and modern museum to interpret the historical legacy of one of the most important symbols of the city. Therefore, the organizers and founders were determined to use innovative solutions and approaches during the design of the permanent exhibition to provide a fresh and unprecedented view of the emergence of this protected UNESCO World Cultural Monument. Three faithful models of the cathedral will occupy the central place in the exhibition space to show visitors the development of the architecture of the building throughout history. Transparent resin at its best 3D-printed transparent resin allows the visitors to see, instantly, inside out, all the changes and interventions that took place during a period of 105 years: from Gothic to Renaissance. The models are not life-size of course (scale 1:100), but thanks to cutting-edge technology, there are many fascinating details that can be perceived in these small samples. “Besides this, the transparent models will be further highlighted with specially designed lighting, which will further emphasize their attractiveness and overall impression”, explains Rukavina. 3D-printed transparent resin allows the visitors to see, instantly, inside out, all the changes and interventions that took place during a period of 105 years: from Gothic to Renaissance. Measuring for 3D design with cutting-edge technologies The measuring process to turn the cathedral into a 3D print also was done using cutting-edge technology. First of all, both range-based (laser scanning) and image-based (3D Photogrammetry) survey methodologies were used in order to get a 3D point cloud of the Cathedral. For object recording, FARO Focus Laser Scanners were used along with three types of DJI unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Using indoor and outdoor datasets, the team built the virtual model out to the finest detail using three-dimensional design software AutoCAD, and then saved it as a binary STL file that was necessary to create a physical model. All the collected data was used to faithfully build only the last two stages of construction, as the first, in Gothic style, was manually generated in 3D from old sketches, which was much more time and labor-intensive. Both range-based (laser scanning) and image-based (3D Photogrammetry) survey methodologies were used in order to get a 3D point cloud of the Cathedral. Impressed by this transparent resin masterpiece? Read more about this material on our material page and learn how to get the perfect transparent resin 3D prints on the i.materialise blog. Once your 3D design is ready you can upload it to our 3D printing online platform to order. Vectrino Ltd. is the Croatian company behind the 3D design of the cathedral. The company creatively uses the latest advanced technology combined with knowledge from specific areas and activities to achieve various business goals: analysis, monitoring, maintenance and planning. They already have experience using tools like unmanned aircraft and submarines equipped with spherical, thermal, NDVI, IR cameras integrating advanced 3D print and 3D modeling. This is their first collaborative 3D project. For various concepts and methods of unmanned aviation applications they won several professional awards such as the Drone Hero Europe 2017, but so far have not used them for this or a similar purpose.
3D printing is a very broad concept that includes many different technologies, materials and even 3D design software. This also means there is a world of possibilities for creative artists willing to experiment like Koenraad Van Daele. As a longtime friend of i.materialise, this Belgian artist is a good example of a curious mind experimenting with diverse 3D printing materials and sizes. Welcome to the 3D-printed world of Koen Van Daele! Van Daele studied art and sculpture in Brussels and Carrara (Italy) where he explored clay modeling, molding and stone sculpture. In the late nineties, he bought his first computer with vector software and everything changed for him. Computers, graphic software, digital design and system development became his part-time job. Today he develops websites and online systems, does graphic design and has even co-founded a non-profit organization with a socio-artistic cause. Thanks to 3D design and 3D printing he has rediscovered his love of sculpture. When did you start using 3D printing for your art? I registered at Tinkercad in January 2012 and placed my first order at i.materialise in December 2012. Between 2005 and 2008, I worked a lot with Macromedia Flash animation software. I also made some flipbooks and discovered François Willème’s work in photosculpture. So I was looking for a way or a method to go from 2D vector drawings to 3D. Autodesk 123D was very helpful at the time! With those tools, I was able to scan objects and turn them into digital 3D files. I scanned a wooden mannequin and separated and enhanced all the parts in Meshmixer. From that moment onwards, I realised that I could work 100% in a digital environment and that digitally modeling the human figure went much faster than clay modeling. I realised that I could work 100% in a digital environment and that digitally modeling the human figure went much faster than clay modeling. Where do you get your inspiration from as a 3D printing artist? A lot of my work is inspired by what happens or which objects can be found in an artist’s studio. The digital studio only requires a computer, a table and a chair. I questioned myself what to do with objects that were significant in the past like chisels, hammers, an easel, a sculpture table, the model, a drawing, a mold, etc. A significant work about this is Still Life with Easel and Sculpture Table printed in polymer and finished with blue spray paint. But today’s inspiration can come from different corners. I can be challenged by an open call, by a theme presented by a colleague, by other artists like Walker Evans, by a technical process or by what’s happening on my screen. A picture in a newspaper inspired My Funny Valentine. Today’s inspiration can come from different corners. I can be challenged by an open call, by a theme presented by a colleague, by other artists, by a technical process or by what’s happening on my screen. How is your creative process? How do you get from the idea to a 3D print? My latest work is a ring with a group of eight figures. The theme is curiosity and I suppose it came to my mind while reading philosophy. I opened a file in Meshmixer with one figure (my silent partner), duplicated it and moved all the body parts so the two figures were standing face to face and holding their hands like binoculars. I duplicated the group four times and positioned them in a circle. The duplication was possible because it’s one of the key features in Meshmixer. The other one is the smoothing tool. The trouble with a ring is that it has to fit, so I designed and ordered several sizes (2 mm step) and colors in polyamide (SLS). You 3D print models with different sizes and purposes. Do you work differently depending on the pieces you are working on? My work has roots in figurative sculpture. For me, digital 3D design has no scale and on the screen there is no gravity. A standing figure with no support falls over but with a hole, it becomes a pendant. A large print of a bracelet can become a sculpture. It’s a playground! A lot of things can happen around a finger or an arm, even drama. Large prints cost more money and that also makes a difference. Digital 3D design has no scale and on the screen there is no gravity. A standing figure with no support falls over but with a hole, it becomes a pendant. A large print of a bracelet can become a sculpture. It’s a playground! You also use different materials for your creations. Does your creative process depend on the material you will use? Every material has specifications, design rules, finishes and pricing. I love ceramics because of the glazing and maybe because it’s close to clay, which I used a lot in the past for modeling. I have no favourite at this moment, but my favourite could be a sustainable weatherproof material that needs no further finish for the outdoors. I am sure the future will surprise us with new materials and finishes. Sometimes I choose alumide for 3D printing for the extra sparkle: it contains a Christmas atmosphere. A challenge could be to design a wearable that is part alumide and part polyamide. What are you working on at the moment? The ring with the eight figures encouraged me to design a matching bracelet. A bracelet has more surface area with more figures and a story. Apart from that, I would like to experiment with code to find out how it can act as a guide for an image or for an object. I recently bought myself an Arduino (an open-source electronics platform) starter’s kit to experiment with servo and programming code. Find out about this 3D printing artist on his website and social media platforms and get inspired by his diverse creations. If you want to follow in Van Daele’s
One of the main goals of 3D printing is simply to make our lives easier: with a good 3D design and the endless possibilities of the technology, it’s easy to find a solution for your needs. For photographers, it might be the need to take better pictures. By adding just a few small details, you can make taking photos and recording a lot easier. We have put together a compilation of 3D-printed camera accessories that can bring photography to the next level. Get your camera ready for an upgrade with this inspiring 3D-printed camera gear! 1. 3D-printed lens cap holder in polyamide (MJF) by Spruce Sometimes, even the smallest actions can ruin it all. Do you know that annoying feeling when you take the lens cap off your camera and can’t find a place to keep it? Or, even worse, when you lose the lens cap altogether? To avoid these sticky situations, Dutch designer Willem Sparreboom designed this lens cap holder in 3D-printed polyamide (MJF). This 3D printing material is perfect for this camera project because it’s light yet sturdy, and the black color matches the camera perfectly. It’s a simple but smart 3D printing project that allows you to improve your photography experience. 2. 3D-printed GoPro scuba mount in alumide GoPro is the camera of choice for the most adventurous photographers. Those looking for alternative ways to use their cameras can experiment by 3D printing mounts for their GoPro – and tailor it to their wishes. The scuba diver Felipe de la Torre 3D-printed this mount to attach his camera to the side of his diving mask. This 3D-printed camera mount was made in alumide to make it sturdy and lightweight at the same time. It’s certainly an original way to bring 3D printing to the bottom of the sea! 3. 3D design of a telescope adaptor for smartphones in polyamide (SLS) This smartphone adaptor is a birdwatcher’s dream! Conceived by the customer optics company Opticron, the adaptor was designed on Tinkercad and is the perfect gadget for digiscoping. This photo technique allows photographers to capture distant images with their digital camera or smartphone by coupling it with an optical telescope. The gadget is the perfect compact, easy to use and low-cost adaptor to take impressive pictures of nature and birds with a smartphone. The adaptor can also be customized to be used with different smartphones, which allows for a lot of flexibility. The gadget is 3D printed in polyamide (SLS): a lightweight, affordable and sturdy option. 4. Camsports mount for ski goggles in polyamide (SLS) Another popular camera for recording outdoorsy activities is the EVO Camsports. The Dutch designer Monique de Wilt created this mount for ski goggles, enabling the user to record ski tours, snowboard stunts or dirtbike trips without the need to attach a camera to your head. With this polyamide (SLS) holder, you can mount the tiny EVO Camsports camera unobtrusively on the elastic band of your ski goggles. “You can easily and securely attach your camera. So easily that you can even put your camera in the holder without taking your helmet or gloves off. You push the camera in the holder, twist it until you can push it all the way back and twist it until the knob points up. Voila, it is secured, it cannot move back or forth. The holder fits on elastic bands with a width of 4cm,” explains the designer about her gadget. You can find Monique’s 3D-printed camera mount in her online shop. 5. Moonrig for DSLR camera in polyamide (SLS) Another creative and useful 3D printing idea to make the most of your camera is this customized rig for a DSLR camera. DSLR cameras are more affordable than high-end cameras and they offer very high-quality images, but it can be difficult to use them for shooting. So the filmmaker Daniel Samier decided to unite his work as a cinematographer and his interest in 3D printing with this 3D-printed camera rig. Moonrig is a collaboration between Samier and the industrial designers Jan Heinzelmann and Sami Ayadi. To get the perfect design, they talked to other cameramen to know more about their preferences and expectations for a camera rig. The result is a lightweight 3D-printed camera rig in polyamide, perfectly suited to long periods of work. You can find Moonrig camera rigs on their online shop. Did you get inspired by this 3D-printed camera gear? You can also find other ideas to take your camera to the next level with the help of 3D printing by checking out these 3D designs. Whether you design the camera solutions in 3D yourself or you download them from a database, you can upload your 3D file to our 3D printing platform to get it 3D printed. Do you have any 3D-printed projects for your camera? Share them with us on social media! #imaterialise
Do you want to learn how to 3D print your own puzzles? Meet designer David Pitcher and get inspired by his inventiveness and his 3D printing expertise. Challenge accepted? Put an industrial designer with a thing for inventions in the active puzzle scene of Boston and you will get amazing designs! After studying at the Rhode Island School for Design and working as a creator on everything from holograms to light fixtures and store displays, David Pitcher never stops creating intricate block puzzles among other inventions. With about 40 patents in his pocket, he explained to us how he uses 3D printing and 3D printing materials like polyamide to create his impossible, 3D-printed puzzle cubes. Discover more in the interview! What inspired you to create puzzles and how did you join this world? I’ve always loved puzzles, and growing up I would modify things like 15 sliding block puzzles and Rubik’s Cubes to try to create different challenges. My first attempt at a custom design was for a 5x5x5 cube, soon after the original Rubik’s Cube came to America in the 80’s. Of course, this was already in the works in Europe at the time, but it was the first example of a design I created from scratch. Unfortunately, that one never got beyond the drawing pad. Have you always 3D printed your designs or have you also used other methods to create puzzles? I was one of the lucky people to have access to 3D printing very early on. I had one of the first printers on the market, a machine made by Sanders Prototype (now Solidscape). It was a very finicky machine, and the parts were fragile, so they had to be cast using urethane and silicone molds, but I was able to make my first custom puzzles with it in the late ‘90s. Of course, it was the advent of readily available SLS 3D printing through web-based services such as i.materialise that really let my creativity take flight. It was the advent of readily available SLS 3D printing through web-based services such as i.materialise that really let my creativity take flight. Which advantages does 3D printing have for your designs? Twisty puzzle design as we know it today would not be possible without 3D printing. I have always liked to create puzzles that make the player think differently. Often, this means using axis systems that no one has made before, which means the puzzles cannot be a modification of an existing mechanism. This type of puzzle design would be virtually impossible without 3D printing. Of course, the more complex twisty puzzles get, the more essential it is to use 3D printing as well. This type of puzzle design would be virtually impossible without 3D printing. Of course, the more complex twisty puzzles get, the more essential it is to use 3D printing as well. Which 3D design software do you use to design puzzles? I use SolidWorks to design my puzzles since it has several features that seem almost tailor-made for twisty puzzle design. However, it is an expensive program, and there are now some other good lower cost options available for 3D design such as OnShape. But since I already have SolidWorks, I’ll stick with that for now. How does your creative process work for 3D printing puzzles? The hardest part about designing twisty puzzles is coming up with new ideas. I’m always trying to find interesting geometries that will make the solver think in different ways. This means spending a lot of time studying various geometry texts, playing with shapes in SolidWorks, cutting them up, and trying them out. I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve been able to find so many new puzzle geometries with interesting properties. Of course, not all of my puzzles rely on new and weird axis systems. Sometimes I make a new puzzle just because I like the aesthetic of it, even if it isn’t particularly difficult to solve. It’s nice to have some simpler puzzles in the catalogue too since not everyone who is fascinated by twisty puzzles is an expert solver. Whatever my reasons for creating a puzzle though, I always try to bring something new to the world. Which is your favorite material to 3D print the puzzles and why? Polyamide (SLS) is definitely my favourite 3D printing material to use since it has properties that are ideal for twisty puzzles. Polyamide (SLS) is very strong, can be dyed black, and you don’t have to worry about support structures since the powder bed takes care of that. Really the only two drawbacks to SLS are the slight “graininess” of the prints and the expense of the process. This is why I’m very excited about new advances in 3D printing, such as the new Polyamide (MJF) process. Of course in the future as 3D printing advances, I’m sure there will be new materials and processes that will allow even more creativity with puzzle design. Polyamide (SLS) is definitely my favourite 3D printing material to use since it has properties that are ideal for twisty puzzles. Polyamide (SLS) is very strong, can be dyed black, and you don’t have to worry about support structures since the powder bed takes care of that. Which advice would you give to someone who wants to start designing and 3D printing puzzles? The best advice I can give is to start small. Try out something not too complicated, even if it is something that already exists. Get feedback from experts by talking about what you’re trying to do and seek advice in places such as the forum at Twistypuzzles.com. The community of twisty puzzle enthusiasts is very friendly and open to sharing ideas and advice. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and put your ideas out there! This way a new designer can avoid a lot of possible mistakes and hopefully create a working puzzle on the first try. After figuring out the best way to make things work, then it’s time to
Polyamide (SLS) is the material that offers the most freedom of design for 3D printing. It’s also the material that can be finished in the most colors. But sometimes, this is not enough to create the 3D prints of your dreams. That’s the case of Brian Wise, a 3D printing beginner who successfully finished his first 3D-printed project, from sketch to painted 3D model. Brian Wise recently graduated from college in Philadelphia with a degree in architecture and has been working as an architectural designer for a year and a half. He has enjoyed drawing and modeling since childhood. That’s why it’s no surprise that his design for a boat started with a sketch. In this interview he explained to us what process he followed to finish his first 3D print and how he painted the printed model to match it with the ideal design he had in mind. We see that you mainly work with illustrations. Why did you decide to 3D print a model of the boat? When I was in school, our final design studio had access to a 3D printer, but due to the direction my project went, I was unable to really do anything with it, which felt like a huge missed opportunity. Now that I’m out of school, I’ve found that I have much more free time with the absence of classes, but have lost the creative outlet that our design studio provided. I tried my hand at a few miscellaneous crafts before starting to get really interested in the idea of 3D printing. Of course, the possibilities of 3D printing are endless, so the process of bringing a 2D drawing to life gave me some focus for this experiment. Is this your first experience with 3D printing? This is indeed my very first print. I looked heavily into acquiring my own 3D printer but was hesitant to purchase plastic-based printers due to wanting to really engage in fine detail and their tendency to visibly layer; and I was unable to afford alternative resin-based printers. Luckily the team at i.materialise was also particularly accommodating. What was the inspiration behind the design of the boat? The process was rather long, though fairly straightforward. It began as an idle sketch while I was in the studio one day, inspired by the exceedingly talented Ian McQue and his fantastical flying boat and industrial paintings. The drawing sat in my sketchbook for over a year until post-graduation, when I became interested in 3D printing. I selected it after scrolling through my old Instagram posts to find an interesting object that I could reasonably model. Over the course of the next week, I 3D modeled it before sending it out to print. Which program did you use for the 3D design? The design was modeled in Rhino 5.0, which I had used heavily and been instructed in as a student for Architectural Visualization, and subsequently purchased only to have it sit around unused on my computer after graduating. Which material did you use and why? I ended up printing the model in polished polyamide (SLS). I certainly didn’t have an excess of money to throw around for a hobby venture like this and was initially discouraged to the point of shelving the project after seeing some of the prices at other websites. Luckily, Polyamide was affordable, allowed for a good level of fine detail, and true to its description on the site was forgiving for a beginner in 3D printing like myself who doesn’t really have a feel for the intricacies of modeling for print. The option of the polished surface was a nice bonus to help reflect the smooth hull of the boat. How did you paint the 3D-printed model? I first coated the model with black spray paint and then used hobby model paints to finish it. Since I had the model printed as one solid block, it was difficult to get into nooks and crannies or to highlight details (something to keep in mind for the next 3D print). By using dry-brushing over the black undercoat, the corrugations, seams, and other tiny details were able to be preserved. After the solid blocks of color were applied, the fine details were added such as rust and striping. Lettering and graffiti were applied with a white gel-pen. Aside from the gel-pen, all the painting materials were from Game Workshop’s Citadel Paints, which I had used before on miniatures when I was younger. Some of the aspects too small for 3D printing, such as the telephone pole mast and rigging, were sourced from Model Train hobby companies and added after painting. Do you have any other 3D-printed projects for the future? Ever since I started getting into the idea of 3D-printing, I’ve had more ideas than I can list, from scale models like the boat, to jewelry. The joy and possibility of bringing a rough idea from 2D to being able to hold it in your hand is amazing. I would love to begin looking into i.materialise’s ability to print interlocking parts to start bringing some movement and life to these creations. I certainly have plenty of sketches to choose from! We hope that this interview inspires you to 3D print your ideas. As you can see, even a doodle can become a stunning 3D-printed piece with the right tools and 3D printing technology. If you are 3D printing on a budget like Brian, you can upload your models to our 3D printing platform once they are ready and get an instant price quote for your prints in different materials. We love seeing what our community gets up to. Tag us on social media with #imaterialise for a chance to get featured!