Introduction: HOW TO DECORATE THE OBJET CONNEX 3D PRINTER (and Yourself at the Same Time)

About: Co-founder of art band Chicks on Speed and PhD candidate, Creativity and Cognition Studios, Dept. of Engineering and IT, The University of Technology, Sydney. Her current research is in computer enhanced foo...

Waiting for a digital print on an Objet Connex 500 can be time consuming, so Gaby and I decided to use our time productively by turning the printer into an expressive machine, in the hope of joining the debate on digital craft and most of all seeing the object print process as living-art.

It all started during a material research project I was carrying out with Gaby about how to embed nail polish into the slices of the print, to give the print a holografic effect (see my other instructable) so the process of hijacking the printing process to do just that was the point of departure for this project.

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Step 1: Shopping List

Assuming you already have access to a 3d printer, preferably an Objet Connex 500 like the one we use in the images, you'll also require the following materials (some of them) to really succeed at this. I bought most of these over amazon (It's good to have a mix of UV sensitive, neon and reflective tapes to really achieve the desired effect).

Tape assortments:

- ReFaXi® 3m Fluorescence Yellow Night Reflective Safety Warning Conspicuity Tape Stick (color1)

- Cyalume Cyflect Photoluminescent Reflective Tape with Adhesive Backing - 5' Length x 1-1/2" Width

- Reflexite REF-DB Retroreflective V92 Daybright Tape: 1 in. x 15 ft. (Blue)

- 3M 3430 White Micro Prismatic Sheeting Reflective Tape, 1.5" x 5 yd

- Oralite (Reflexite) V98 Microprismatic Retroreflective Conspicuity Tape: 1 in. x 15 ft. (Fluorescent Orange)

- 2 of 5-Pack UV Blacklight Reactive Fluorescent / Neon Gaffer Tape Matte Finish (various sizes) (.25 in x 30 ft)

- Safe Way Traction 2" x 12' Roll 3M Fluorescent Yellow Green Reflective Hazard Warning Emergency Vehicle Safety Marking Tape 983-23 ES

- Irwin Industrial Tool #65604 150' Glo Lime Flag Tape

- Blue 2"X10'(5cmx3m)3M Reflective Safety Warning Conspicuity Tape Film Sticker

- Red & Light Green 2"X118" Arrow Safety Warning Conspicuity Reflective Roll Tape Marking

- Red & Light Green 2"X118" Chequer Reflective Safety Warning Conspicuity Tape Marking

- Docooler Glow in the Dark Tape Premium Luminous Green Sheet Sticker Film for Warning

- NEW customTAYLOR33 Special Edition Purple High Intensity Grade Reflective Copyrighted Safety Rim Tapes, 17" (Rim Size for Most SportsBikes) (please note, i didn't find these so good, but someone migh have a good strobe light that can make them reflect as they should on motorbikes etc)

- 5-Pack UV Blacklight Reactive Fluorescent / Neon Gaffer Tape Matte Finish (various sizes)

- Marsway 1 Rolls Luminous Tape Sticker 10' Length x 0.8" Width Removable Waterproof Photoluminescent Glow in the Dark Safety Tape

- JVCC GLW Glow in the Dark Tape: 1/2 in. x 30 ft. (Luminescent Lime Green)

- Swanson RFTGLP150 1-3/16-Inch by 150-Feet Taffeta Roll Flagging, Pink

- Ninth-City 1.97"X9.8Ft Car Safety Caution Warning Reflective Self Adhesive Tape Sticker (Red)

Other performative accessories:

2 black light torches with rechargable batteries

Go Pro to document the process in time lapse mode

2 pairs of overalls like the ones Gaby and Alex are wearing can be made following the pattern in the "Chicks on Speed, It's a project" book, this is also available via Amazon or great independent book store near you.

published by Booth Clibborn Editions

As far as make up goes, i'd suggest a neon colour palette from kryolan, which can be bought

here: and then use a black marker pen for the face to outline around the neon parts, this can also be purchased via Kryolan or Lancome have a good one too.


1 fresh pinapple & Digital Craft signage

Step 2: Introducing the Performers

Before we get started, let me introduce the performers properly:

Gaby Patin (Head of the 3d print workshop, Pier 9, Autodesk, San Francisco)

Alex Murray-Leslie (co-founder Chicks on Speed, designer of foot based musical instruments and pop performer)

Step 3: READY SET GO! It's All About the Flow! Gaby & Alex Decorate the OBJET CONNEX 500.....

Lets remember that the 2 different prints we performed took 8 hours each, that's a long time to be performing with the Object Connex 500, so you really need to prepare yourself for a durational performance as 3d printing doesn't happen at lighting speed.....not yet anyway.......remember this exploratory action is really about getting into the performative flow, which does take at least 2 hours before things start to become interesting, just like in a jam session with musicians, you need to get to know each other and your machine......and loose your self awareness and become one with the 3d printer.

It's important to start slowly, we started by decorating the top of the print heads and then stopping the printer every 100 slices and added a new layer of tape onto the machine bed in a choreographed manner, taking into account the movement of the entire composition on the print bed, with the actual 3d print object in play. A note of advice, always remember to avoid sticking tape too close to your actual 3d printed work or any mechanical moving parts of the Objet Connex 500, as this could damage the printer and lets not forget this is a really expensive state of the art machine.


Watch this stop motion piece gaby and I made and you can see all the steps of us decorating the machine to inspire your own machine art making.

Step 5: Other Expressive Machines Out There

Just remember, there are many other machines out there in workshops, waiting to be interacted just look around and perform the example is the oh so sexy HAAS MILL as pictured, it was a party, a machine solo, just like playing an electric guitar, or should i say a high heeled shoe guitar on stage!

Step 6: POSSIBLE OUTCOMES - Another Artwork Is Created by Mistake

As you can see, there are many outcomes from such a performance, one such outcome is the creation of short stop motion clips from the go pro of the tape and print action, which leaves light traces of the actual process.

Another happened right at the end of the performance with Gaby, Steve Mann showed up (yeah!) and began an adjunct performance, something i was drawn into and became a protagonist and collaborator of. So you never know, just when you think the performance is over, it might not be, so you should always be open to extending the performance as that's when really unknown and exciting things can occur, things you may not be in control of.

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    3 Discussions

    space explorer
    space explorer

    3 years ago

    Do you fully realise what this is industrial machine and not supposed to be decorated in any way and you are violating the entire safety rules? (all this staff is inflammable as hell)


    3 years ago

    This is insanely awesome weird and creative. Love it?