3D Printing

3D Printing

so intimately wrapped up in our identities and everyday interaction

  • Rather than replacing the skill of an excellent plastic surgeon, 3D printers are providing another tool that they can use to take the art of what they do to another level in complex case
  • Using 3D print technology allows the surgeon to create a guide that is much more faithful to plan than doing it free hand would be.

Facial Transplants:

VSP Technology

VSP technology is able to create these surgical templates by using medical scan data, which are transformed into 3D models and, in some cases, are even 3D printed for a visual aid. 3D Systems’ Medical Modeling team actually assisted in the printing of these templates, using a biocompatible 3D printing material that is easily sterilized, and can, therefore, be safely utilized within the confines of an operating room.





3D printing is now proving extremely useful in the field of forensic facial reconstruction, a method of identifying skeletal remains.

The process consists of recreating the face of a person with only the skull as a reference. An artist schooled in anatomy, anthropology, osteology (the study of the function and structure of the skeleton), and forensic science gradually builds up the face from the surface of the skull, adding clay like layers of tissuemuscles, cartilage, tendons, and so on until the skin and facial features are in a sense restored.

This practice is used in situations where human remains are found in order to attempt to identify the person and to determine whether a crime has been committed. It is also used by anthropologists and archaeologists when remains of ancient humans and homonids are discovered.

A major problem with the current practice of forensic facial reconstruction is that the skull must be used and can, in the process, potentially be damaged.

Even though the layers of clay are removed after the reconstruction has been completed and the finished work photographed, it isn’t an ideal scenario.

3D modeling and printing provides an excellent alternative to using the skull and one Tampa, Florida company, Engineering and Manufacturing Services, Inc. (EMS), has developed a system of forensic facial reconstruction that eliminates the need to use the skull.

There are now process that are able to create a 3D scan of the skull. The scan, which has a feature called “Clay Tools,” that enables technicians to imitate the real-life building up of clay on the surface of the skull that happens with traditional forensic facial reconstruction.

The program has a feature that creates virtual tissue depth markers, allowing the 3D artist to reconstruct features on the scanned skull layer by layer.

Significantly, with forensic facial reconstruction, it is standard practice to have several artists create reconstructions, particularly focusing on facial features, which are considered to be difficult to discern solely from the shape of skull and layers of tissue.

The obvious applicability of 3D technology in this field is an exciting step forward.



MakerBot 3D printer

  • 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), refers to various processes used to synthesize a three-dimensional object.In 3D printing, successive layers of material are formed under computer control to create an object. These objects can be of almost any shape or geometry and are produced from a 3D model or other electronic data source. A 3D printer is a type of industrial robot.
  • Futurologists such as Jeremy Rifkin believe that 3D printing signals the beginning of a third industrial revolution
  • Using the power of the Internet, it may eventually be possible to send a blueprint of any product to any place in the world to be replicated by a 3D printer with “elemental inks” capable of being combined into any material substance of any desired form.
  • 3D printing in the term’s original sense refers to processes that sequentially deposit material onto a powder bed with inkjet printer heads. More recently, the meaning of the term has expanded to encompass a wider variety of techniques such as extrusion and sintering-based processes. Technical standards generally use the term additive manufacturing for this broader sense.


3D Processed/Models


Terminology and methods

  • Early Additive Manufacturing (or AM) equipment and materials were developed in the 1980s.
  • In 1981, AM fabricating methods of a three-dimensional plastic model with photo-hardening polymer, where the UV exposure area is controlled by a mask pattern or the scanning fiber transmitter.
  • But on July 16, 1984 Alain Le Méhauté, Olivier de Witte and Jean Claude André filed their patent for the stereolithography process. It was three weeks before Chuck Hull filed his own patent for stereolithography. Then in 1984, Chuck Hull developed a prototype system based on a process known as stereolithography, in which layers are added by curing photopolymers with ultraviolet light lasers. Hull defined the process as a “system for generating three-dimensional objects by creating a cross-sectional pattern of the object to be formed,”but this had been already invented by Kodama.
  • The term 3D printing originally referred to a process employing standard and custom inkjet print heads. The technology used by most 3D printers to date—especially hobbyist and consumer-oriented models—is fused deposition modeling, a special application of plastic extrusion.
  • At the time, nearly all metal working was produced by casting, fabrication, stamping, and machining; although plenty of automation was applied to those technologies (such as by robot welding and CNC), the idea of a tool or head moving through a 3D work envelope transforming a mass of raw material into a desired shape layer by layer was associated by most people only with processes that removed metal (rather than adding it), such as CNC milling, CNC EDM, and many others. But AM-type sintering was beginning to challenge that assumption. By the mid 1990s, new techniques for material deposition including micro casting and sprayed materials.
  • By the early 2010s, the terms 3D printing and additive manufacturing developed senses in which they were synonymous umbrella terms for all AM technologies. Although this was a departure from their earlier technically narrower senses, it reflects the simple fact that the technologies all share the common theme of sequential-layer material addition/joining throughout a 3D work envelope under automated control. As technology matured, several authors had begun to speculate that 3D printing could aid in sustainable development in the developing world.

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This is what 3-D printing in full color looks like

By now, most of you must have seen how a 3D printer works. Layer by layer, a material (plastic most of the time) is oozed out of an extruder nozzle to build the 3D model. If you have a printer on the lower end, your models will come out a bit rough. These will require finishing. Also, they will have the same texture and color as the raw material. So, you’ll basically get the same texture and color everywhere which is fine for most practical purposes. Pictured above is the 3D-printed face of the Holobuild Scanning System inventor — a device that allows you to accurately scan any object. The system captures pixel-by-pixel accurate color details and geometry of scanned subjects with an accuracy of within 0.005 millimeters.

What’s amazing about the print is that it all came out in one go without finishing touches: the textures, the color, everything. It is quite impressive.

The printer used was a ZPrinter 650, which costs approximately $65,000. The Z650 is capable of printing in 360,000 colors, and this 3-D printed face required $250 worth of materials to make.


  • In 2005, academic journals had begun to report on the possible artistic applications of 3D printing technology, being used by artists such as Martin John Callahan.
  • Several artists such as Joshua Harker, Davide Prete, Sophie Kahn, Helena Lukasova, Foteini Setaki showed how 3D printing can modify aesthetic and art processes
  • The use of 3D scanning technologies allows the replication of real objects without the use of moulding techniques that in many cases can be more expensive, more difficult, or too invasive to be performed, particularly for precious or delicate cultural heritage artefacts where direct contact with the moulding substances could harm the original object’s surface.
  • Critical making refers to the hands on productive activities that link digital technologies to society. It is invented to bridge the gap between creative physical and conceptual exploration. The term was popularized by Matt Ratto, who describes one of the main goals of critical as “to use material forms of engagement with technologies to supplement and extend critical reflection and, in doing so, to reconnect our lived experiences with technologies to social and conceptual critique”.
  •  The main focus of critical making is open design,which includes, in addition to 3D printing technologies, also other digital software and hardware. People usually reference spectacular design when explaining critical making.




Gino Severini, 1912, Dynamic Hieroglyphic of the Bal Tabarin, oil on canvas with sequins, 161.6 x 156.2 cm (63.6 x 61.5 in.)

  • It emphasized speed, technology, youth, and violence, and objects such as the car, the aeroplane, and the industrial city.
  • Although it was largely an Italian phenomenon, there were parallel movements in RussiaEngland, and elsewhere.
  • The Futurists practiced in every medium of art including painting, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, urban design, theatre, film, fashion, textiles, literature, music, architecture, and even gastronomy.
  • Its key figures were the Italians Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Gino Severini, Giacomo Balla, Antonio Sant’Elia, Bruno Munari, Benedetta Cappa and Luigi Russolo, the Russians Natalia Goncharova, Velimir Khlebnikov, Igor Severyanin, David Burliuk, Aleksei Kruchenykh and Vladimir Mayakovsky, and the Portuguese Almada Negreiros.
  • It glorified modernity and aimed to liberate Italy from the weight of its past

The legacy of Futurism

Futurism influenced many other twentieth-century art movements, including Art Deco, Vorticism, Constructivism, Surrealism, Dada, and much later Neo-Futurism.

 Futurism as a coherent and organized artistic movement is now regarded as extinct, having died out in 1944 with the death of its leader Marinetti.

Nonetheless the ideals of Futurism remain as significant components of modern Western culture; the emphasis on youth, speed, power and technology finding expression in much of modern commercial cinema and culture.

Ridley Scott consciously evoked the designs of Sant’Elia in Blade RunnerEchoes of Marinetti’s thought, especially his:

“dreamt-of metallization of the human body”,

are still strongly prevalent in Japanese culture, and surface in manga/animeand the works of artists such as Shinya Tsukamoto, director of the “Tetsuo” (lit. “Ironman”) films.

Futurism has produced several reactions, including the literary genre of cyberpunk—in which technology was often treated with a critical eye—whilst artists who came to prominence during the first flush of the Internet, such as Stelarc and Mariko Mori, produce work which comments on Futurist ideals and the art and architecture movement Neo-Futurism in which technology is considered a driver to a better quality of life and sustainability values.

A revival of sorts of the Futurist movement in theatre began in 1988 with the creation of the Neo-Futurist style in Chicago, which utilizes Futurism’s focus on speed and brevity to create a new form of immediate theatre.

Third Industrial Revolution

  • Jeremy Rifkin (born January 26, 1945) is an American economic and social theorist, writer, public speaker, political advisor, and activist. Rifkin is the author of 20 books about the impact of scientific and technological changes on the economy, the workforce, society, and the environment.


  • The Age of Access (2000), The Biotech Century (1998), The End of Work (1995).


  • Rifkin’s work has also been controversial. Opponents have attacked the lack of scientific rigor in his claims as well as some of the tactics he has used to promote his views. The Harvard scientist Stephen Jay Gould characterized Rifkin’s 1983 book “Algeny” as “a cleverly constructed tract of anti-intellectual propaganda masquerading as scholarship”.


  • Futurists or futurologists are scientists and social scientists whose specialty is futurology, or the attempt to systematically explore predictions and possibilities about the future and how they can emerge from the present, whether that of human society in particular or of life on Earth in general.
  • The term “futurist” most commonly refers to people such as authors, consultants, organizational leaders and others who engage in interdisciplinary and systems thinking to advise private and public organizations on such matters as diverse global trends, possible scenarios, emerging market opportunities and risk management. (Futurist is not in the sense of the art movement futurism.)
  • label adopted by the Italian and Russian futurists, the artistic, literary and political movements of the 1920s and 1930s which sought to reject the past and fervently embrace speed, technology and, often violent, change.
  • Visionary writers such as Jules Verne, Edward Bellamy and H. G. Wells were not in their day characterized as futurists. The term futurology in its contemporary sense was first coined in the mid‑1940s by the German Professor Ossip K. Flechtheim, who proposed a new science of probability. Flechtheim argued that even if systematic forecasting did no more than unveil the subset of statistically highly probable processes of change and charted their advance, it would still be of crucial social value


Futurists and futurology

Not all futurists engage in the practice of futurology as generally defined. Pre-conventional futurists (see below) would generally not. And while religious futurists, astrologers, occultists, New Age divinists, etc. use methodologies that include study, none of their personal revelation or belief-based work would fall within a consensus definition of futurology as used in academics or by futures studies professionals.

Several authors have become recognized as futurists. They research trends, particularly in technology, and write their observations, conclusions, and predictions. In earlier eras, many futurists were at academic institutions. John McHale, author of The Future of the Future, published a ‘Futures Directory’, and directed a think tank called The Centre For Integrative Studies at a university. Futurists have started consulting groups or earn money as speakers, with examples including Alvin Toffler, John Naisbitt and Patrick Dixon. Frank Feather is a business speaker that presents himself as a pragmatic futurist. Some futurists have commonalities with science fiction, and some science-fiction writers, such as Arthur C. Clarke, are known as futurists.

In the introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin distinguished futurists from novelists, writing of the study as the business of prophets, clairvoyants, and futurists. In her words, “a novelist’s business is lying”.

A survey of 108 futurists found the following shared assumptions:

  1. We are in the midst of a historical transformation. Current times are not just part of normal history.
  2. Multiple perspectives are at heart of futures studies, including unconventional thinking, internal critique, and cross-cultural comparison.
  3. Consideration of alternatives. Futurists do not see themselves as value-free forecasters, but instead aware of multiple possibilities.
  4. Participatory futures. Futurists generally see their role as liberating the future in each person, and creating enhanced public ownership of the future. This is true worldwide.
  5. Long-term policy transformation. While some are more policy-oriented than others, almost all believe that the work of futures studies is to shape public policy, so it consciously and explicitly takes into account the long term.
  6. Part of the process of creating alternative futures and of influencing public (corporate, or international) policy is internal transformation. At international meetings, structural and individual factors are considered equally important.
  7. Complexity. Futurists believe that a simple one-dimensional or single-discipline orientation is not satisfactory. Trans-disciplinary approaches that take complexity seriously are necessary. Systems thinking, particularly in its evolutionary dimension, is also crucial.
  8. Futurists are motivated by change. They are not content merely to describe or forecast. They desire an active role in world transformation.
  9. They are hopeful for a better future as a “strange attractor”.
  10. Most believe they are pragmatists in this world, even as they imagine and work for another. Futurists have a long term perspective.
  11. Sustainable futures, understood as making decisions that do not reduce future options, that include policies on nature, gender and other accepted paradigms. This applies to corporate futurists and the NGO. Environmental sustainability is reconciled with the technological, spiritual and post-structural ideals. Sustainability is not a “back to nature” ideal, but rather inclusive of technology and culture.

Strange attractor


An attractor is called strange if it has a fractal structure. This is often the case when the dynamics on it are chaotic, but strange nonchaotic attractors also exist. If a strange attractor is chaotic, exhibiting sensitive dependence on initial conditions, then any two arbitrarily close alternative initial points on the attractor, after any of various numbers of iterations, will lead to points that are arbitrarily far apart (subject to the confines of the attractor), and after any of various other numbers of iterations will lead to points that are arbitrarily close together.

Thus a dynamic system with a chaotic attractor is locally unstable yet globally stable: once some sequences have entered the attractor, nearby points diverge from one another but never depart from the attractor.

The term b was coined by David Ruelle and Floris Takens to describe the attractor resulting from a series of bifurcations of a system describing fluid flow. Strange attractors are often differentiable in a few directions, but some are like a Cantor dust, and therefore not differentiable. Strange attractors may also be found in presence of noise, where they may be shown to support invariant random probability measures of Sinai-Ruelle-Bowen type.



Critical Making

  • Critical making refers to the hands-on productive activities that link digital technologies to society.
  • It is invented to bridge the gap between creative physical and conceptual exploration.
  • The purpose of critical making lies in the learning extracted from the making rather than the experience derived from the finished output.
  • “Critical making” as defined by practitioners like Matt Ratto and Stephen Hockema,

“is an elision of two typically disconnected modes of engagement in the world — “critical thinking,” often considered as abstract, explicit, linguistically based, internal and cognitively individualistic; and “making,” typically understood as tacit, embodied, external, and community-oriented.”

Critical making has been coined as a reaction to digitisation and is moreover a reaction to things that have essentially been done before. It involves engaging with physical components and materials in their raw forms and building something from scratch, encouraging maker culture.

  • Critical making is less about the aesthetics of the end product and more about the process and conceptual exploration.

It is the inquiry that matters and not the final solution.

  • Through making you get a better understanding of how various technologies function.

Critical Making gives birth to curiosity.

  • While making, you question several aspects of the process, explore various directions formulating your own opinion on what works or does not work and why.

The main focus of critical making is open design.

  • Open design develops a critical perspective on the current institutions, practices and norms of society, and reconnects materiality and morality.
  • Matt Ratto introduces Critical Making as processes of material and conceptual exploration and creation of novel understandings by the makers themselves.
  • Critical Making includes digital software and hardware.


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3D Printing and Critical Making

3D Printing allows for relatively cheap and customizable design of objects which are often integrated into critical making projects.

There are two type of industrial manufacturing:

  1. Subtractive Manufacturing: involves shaping a material through a process of chipping / removing some of its substance (think whittling a figure out of wood)
  2. Additive Manufacturing: creates by adding material into a product.
  • The basic steps of 3D printing are digital design: design the object you want to print using digital design software OR download a design from a website, press print and the printer will begin creating a physical version of your digital design.
  • 3D printers use layerization to create objects. 3D printers use a variety of materials to create objects, including plastic, metal and nylon.

3D Facilities:

  • Funky 3D Faces – £30 – Turn you face into Lego Minifigure

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3D Systems Is Still Losing Money As Printing Business Faces Hurdles

3D Systems posted a wider loss in its first quarter, as sales faltered and high expenses continued to eat into its bottom line.

During the quarter, the 3D printing company reported a loss of $17.8 million, or 16 cents per share, compared to a loss of $13.2 million, or 12 cents per share, from the same period a year ago. Adjusted for items, earnings of five cents per share were in line with Wall Street expectations.

3D Systems has been working to turn itself around, and as such has been shifting away from consumer products and recently tapped a Hewlett-Packard HPQ +1.22% printing veteran as its new chief executive. It’s turning its attention to larger clients and real world applications, like in healthcare and software.

“I’ve spent the past month listening to and learning from customers, partners and employees,” said CEO Vyomesh Joshi in prepared remarks, who took the reigns in April. “The next phase for us is to develop a strategy to drive profitable growth with operational excellence and an appropriate cost structure.”

The company, which has traditionally been highly acquisitive, has also plowed money into research and development. Operating expenses slid 2% in the first quarter, but still amounted to $94.3 million.

Revenue fell 5% to $152.6 million, below Wall Street analyst estimates of $156.3 million.

In a nod to the competition that 3D Systems faces, Joshi acknowledged the one tech behemoth he knows well: Hewlett-Packard. “No doubt they will bring a 3D printer to market and will be a formidable competitor,” said Joshi on a conference call with investors and analysts, who went on to tout 3D System’s long history and robust technology portfolio.

While there’s been a lot of buzz about the promise of 3D printing, investors have soured on the stocks lately. Shares of 3D Systems have fallen 39% over the last 12 months, while shares of fellow 3D printer maker Stratasys  are down 42%.

“This is a growth market,” said Joshi on Thursday. “There is no question in my mind.”

Shares of 3D Systems rose 1% to $14.60 in pre-market trading following the results.


Industry use:

Higher education has proven to be a major buyer of desktop and professional 3D printers which industry experts generally view as a positive indicator.

Consumer use:

Several projects and companies are making efforts to develop affordable 3D printers for home desktop use. Much of this work has been driven by and targeted at DIY/Maker/enthusiast/early adoptercommunities, with additional ties to the academic and hacker communities.

The availability of these open source designs means that variants of 3D printers are easy to invent. The quality and complexity of printer designs, however, as well as the quality of kit or finished products, varies greatly from project to project. This rapid development of open source 3D printers is gaining interest in many spheres as it enables hyper-customization and the use of public domain designs to fabricate open source appropriate technology.

This technology can also assist initiatives in sustainable development since technologies are easily and economically made from resources available to local communities.

The cost of 3D printers has decreased dramatically since about 2010, with machines that used to cost $20,000 now costing less than $1,000.

As the costs of 3D printers have come down they are becoming more appealing financially to use for self-manufacturing of personal products.


Social Change:

Since the 1950s, a number of writers and social commentators have speculated in some depth about the social and cultural changes that might result from the advent of commercially affordable additive manufacturing technology.

Amongst the more notable ideas to have emerged from these inquiries has been the suggestion that, as more and more 3D printers start to enter people’s homes, so the conventional relationship between the home and the workplace might get further eroded.

Likewise, it has also been suggested that, as it becomes easier for businesses to transmit designs for new objects around the globe, so the need for high-speed freight services might also become less.

Finally, given the ease with which certain objects can now be replicated, it remains to be seen whether changes will be made to current copyright legislation so as to protect intellectual property rights with the new technology widely available.

As 3D printers became more accessible to consumers, online social platforms have developed to support the community. This includes websites that allow users to access information such as how to build a 3D printer, as well as social forums that discuss how to improve 3D print quality and discuss 3D printing news, as well as social media websites that are dedicated to share 3D models.

Dedicated Websites:

  • RepRap
  • Pinshape
  • Thingiverse
  • MyMiniFactory

The self-reinforced fantasy of a system of eternal growth can be overcome with the development of economies of scope, and here, the civil society can play an important role contributing to the raising of the whole productive structure to a higher plateau of more sustainable and customized productivity.

Michael Spence wrote that

“Now comes a … powerful, wave of digital technology that is replacing labor in increasingly complex tasks. This process of labor substitution and disintermediation (reduction in the use of intermediaries between producers and consumers)  has been underway for some time in service sectors—think of ATMs, online banking, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, mobile payment systems, and much more.

This revolution is spreading to the production of goods, where robots and 3D printing are displacing labor.” In his view, the vast majority of the cost of digital technologies comes at the start, in the design of hardware (e.g. 3D printers) and, more important, in creating the software that enables machines to carry out various tasks. “Once this is achieved, the marginal cost of the hardware is relatively low (and declines as scale rises), and the marginal cost of replicating the software is essentially zero.

With a huge potential global market to amortize the upfront fixed costs of design and testing, the incentives to invest [in digital technologies] are compelling.”

Spence believes that, unlike prior digital technologies, which drove firms to deploy underutilized pools of valuable labor around the world, the motivating force in the current wave of digital technologies “is cost reduction via the replacement of labor.” For example, as the cost of 3D printing technology declines, it is “easy to imagine” that production may become “extremely” local and customized. Moreover, production may occur in response to actual demand, not anticipated or forecast demand.

Spence believes that labor, no matter how inexpensive, will become a less important asset for growth and employment expansion, with labor-intensive, process-oriented manufacturing becoming less effective, and that re-localization will appear in both developed and developing countries. In his view, production will not disappear, but it will be less labor-intensive, and all countries will eventually need to rebuild their growth models around digital technologies and the human capital supporting their deployment and expansion.

Spence writes that

“the world we are entering is one in which the most powerful global flows will be ideas and digital capital, not goods, services, and traditional capital. Adapting to this will require shifts in mindsets, policies, investments (especially in human capital), and quite possibly models of employment and distribution.”