Suggestions for the DigiFab-Studio
At the moment there are a few technologies of digital fabrication that allow students of visual art to bring their computer aided models to reality. Among them there obviously are the 3D printers in the studio using the technique of fused deposition modelling. Furthermore students have access to a CNC mill and to two laser cutters in the architecture building. These facilities provide impressive opportunities and can produce stunning results.
However there are many more technologies to be discovered. The expression “3D printing” is striking and easy to remember. But in the way the word is used it is being narrowed down to FDM-machines. As a generic term “additive manufacturing techniques” would be more appropriate. FDM is just one of many processes. It seems curious that another technology is really called 3D printing. But they are not the same!
So among the different techniques there is the Stereolithography. Both the Laser-Scanning-Processing and the Digital Light Processing are subgroups of Stereolithograpy. Another big group is formed by machines of Layer Laminate Manufacturing. They will cut out pieces of solid but very thin material and will place one layer on top of the other. Instances of this type would be Laminate Object Manufacturing and Meatal Laminated Tooling. The original 3D-Printing also uses an alternative functionality. It processes powder that is hardened with a special type of binder. And of course there is the Selective-Laser-Sintering that uses a high energy light beam to melt the work material.
All of the mentioned technologies have their advantages and disadvantages regarding speed of making; accuracy in x,y-dimension; accuracy in z-dimension; workable materials; need of support material; stability of the product; and other specific characteristics.
A profound investigation of the technologies’ pros and cons could provide valuable insights. I am convinced some of them can largely contribute to the work of artists. Of course on the other hand the financial needs for the technologies have to be evaluated. A financial analysis could be the purpose of a following article.