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Artists Using 3D Printers


Asher N / Creative Commons

Even though 3D printers aren’t exactly new technology anymore, they’re still pretty mind-blowing. The printer takes strands of plastic, melts them down, and creates any shape you can imagine (and design on your computer). Less surprising, perhaps, is the fact that many artists are embracing this technology as it has become cheaper and more readily available.

It’s not just sculptors who are using 3D printers; installation artists are using them to create large-scale plastic pieces and some are even using the technology to create objects made of metal and other materials. Portland-based sculptor and live theater production designer Michael Curry says 3D printing has changed the way he works, but hasn’t altered the final product. He creates large-scale puppets for shows like The Lion King on Broadway and Cirque du Soleil.

Curry predicts 3D printers will soon become commonplace home appliances, but he’s quick to point out that the technology ultimately depends on human input. “It’s nothing more than a tool,” he says. “It doesn’t make art for us. We have to give it something great to start with.”

Are you an artist? Do you use a 3D printer? How has it changed your work flow? Does it change what you make?

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