Can a 3D printer assist me visually communicate more effectively?

3D Printing

Lecture Notes:

  • Prototyping – don’t go to the ‘nth’ degree
  • PRO TIP: Checkout L@G in the readings sections, it is loaded with information.
  • Checkout the WANHAO (Uni Machines) user manual – Funlab Machines
  • Fusion has videos online for training.
  • So what is different with 3D over the Laser, as they both create designs:
    • 3D Printing is additive manufacturing
    • Laser Printing is subtractive manufacturing
    • CNC Router is also subtractive manufacturing
  • Important Terms to remember:
    • FFF – Free Form Fabrication
    • FDM – Fused Deposition Modeling
    • They basically mean or refer to the same thing – a hot glue gun on a drill press but with a lot more precision.
  • When you create your 3D printed object, think what it will need to be supported in the printing process, as the printer can not start on an area without a base. This means sometimes you will have to spacially rethink how you object is orientated for print.

The Golden Ratio:

Previously I have learnt about the golden ration in my photographic and drawing studies, and modelling in 3D is just as important. It was time for a refresher, so I found the math again….

“In 1860 German physicist and psychologist Gustav Theodor Fechner proposed that a simple ratio, an irrational number defines the balance in nature. The Golden Ratio! Fechner’s experiment was simplified: ten rectangles varying in their length-to-width ratios were placed in front of a subject, who was asked to select the most pleasing one. The results showed that the most favoured choice was the “Golden Rectangle” (with ratio 1.618).”



And then some examples where nature uses this ratio:

And where man has copied the use of this ratio:

Notes on the Process:

STL – File for Printing – available to download on the internet

Slicing – What has to happen to the STL to make it print in layers

Gcode – Export file for the 3D Printer to print the file – save on Micro SD Card

Filament – PLA is made from cornstarch and is stiff, ABS is flexible

Brim – Layer to run the project on

Shell Thickness – 1.2 (3 x the width of the Nozzle Tip – WANHAO is 0.4)

Extruder – The Brass nipple (nozzle) is at 200-240deg

Print speed – 50 – Any faster and you get a shitty output.

PRO TIP: If you want to take a 3D image of something, use an Xbox Connect 360.



Q. How is this technology facilitated within your industry/your discipline?

There is an excellent article on how the use of 3D printing was used by students to create 3D printed typography that fits in with the lego system.

Playing with model trains and not being able to get all the parts, along with old hot wheels cars, the idea of being to put little people inside the cars or being able to get a new bonnet or wheel sounds pretty awesome to me. In our industry, though being able to prototype at scale an extruded corporate logo would be a huge advantage from a sales point. The other option is to 3D print merchandise for the company so they need a prototype of a MOQ of just one, where it is very expensive from the overseas supplier, this could save heaps of times and arguments in the office over what will work.

Q. What are the possible future for this technology?

I think we are only seeing the start of 3D printing and larger machines (not home based) is going to be the future. The technology has (and still is) going through its gimmick phase and now that printers have dropped in price point, it is going to be even easier to create home projects, be able to replace parts for machines that no longer being serviced by their manufacturers.

In reference to design, I think product and interior designers will have great use for 3D printed materials as they could be used to custom make a shape/block/shelf etc, that fits an obtuse or acute angle that would not be normally available for sale. The filament/substrate of the object could then be decorated with other materials to make it not look like the fantastic plastic era of the 60’s & 70’s.

As for visual communicators, long-lost type block could be recreated quickly for use in letterpress. Adds of old could be scanned in 2D and given height so they could be applied to a sort, so then they could be used in analogue projects. A sort of fusion of old and new.


Some other projects that inspire me: