About a month ago I visited the Annex (Instructables' old shop location in SF) to chat with shop guru Steve about what people had been making with the Objet Connex 500 3d printers. Steve showed me gadgets made with multiple materials and moving parts, crystal clear resins, a small model ship that had broken from insufficient wall thickness, and a super duper
detailed character design created by somebody in the movie business. Steve explained how the resins, packaged in what looked like giant sized "ink cartridges" could be combined to create unique material characteristics (rigid, flexible, translucent, clear). He also walked me through the cleaning process, a necessary step where support material from the initial print must be removed with a combination of hand tools and pressure washing. I was surprised to find that both the support material and even the final cured resins were fairly toxic. After picking up a few 3d printed Instructables robots I was advised to wash my hands thoroughly. I also noticed that the general feel of the cured resins was somehow 'off' from the consumer plastics I was used to touching on a regular basis.
Fast forward one month later to Instructables' new diggs at Pier 9 nearing completion and the last two weeks of my Artist in Residency quickly closing in. I had the green light from NoahW
to get creative with the newly relocated armada of Objet Connex 3d printers. I was excited to finally use these crazy machines, but still wasn't sure how I would approach the material issues that I had learned about during my visit with Steve.
I love making things that are seen and touched on a regular basis; useful things inspired by everyday life. With the toxicity and visceral quality of 3d printed materials hindering my thought process, I spoke to Randofo
(friendly and helpful featured author at Instructables) about utilizing the good characteristics of 3d printing while avoiding the bad ones. He suggested I create molds. What a great idea! Making molds would allow me utilize the precision of CAD software and 3d printing while fabricating the final product(s) in a secondary material. I immediately recalled my recent desire to make small scale concrete castings...
*Photo credit: audreyobscura