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3D Printing Artist Chris Milnes Explores Controversial Pop Cultural Variations of Laughing Buddha Statue

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“A jug fills drop by drop,” Buddha once said. And when it comes to 3D printing, Buddha would probably say something like “A 3D printer extrudes filament layer by filament layer.” If you know anyone in 3D design and printing, they are as devoted to this technology as a Tibetan monk might be about their own chosen pastime of praying. Yes, folks, 3D printing is a religion of sorts, with its own dedicated band of fanatical followers.

This is the context in which 3D designer and artist “Muckychris,” or Chris Milnes, brings us his controversial 3D printed Laughing Buddha collection: controversial enough to be banned for a day by Facebook.

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You know the original Laughing Buddha image? Well these images borrow from Star Wars, superheroes, video games, and even The Simpsons — all reworked into a Laughing Buddha style.  While well designed and 3D printed, these figures have made some waves. One Buddhist reported on Milnes’ Facebook page that he is highly offended by these figures — and finds them racist, too. One post suggested he should include images of Mohammed and Jesus if he is going to defile Buddha’a image. Milnes replied that his intention was to explore the connection between The Force and Buddhism, not to be offensive.

Even more interesting is that Facebook agreed his 3D printed Zen pop culture images were offensive, and on December 5, 2015 the artist reported that Facebook banned his page for 24 hours on religious blasphemy grounds. Some Buddhists fired back that they have some of his work, while others claim they are highly offended. Is this why Buddha laughs? Judge for yourself here, as one could argue that the Laughing Buddha would laugh at these images, or as Milnes himself suggests to critics: “Live and let live.”

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Let’s get to the figures themselves. Milnes’ designs are available through his Etsy Shop in 2″, 4″, and 8″ sizes. A chrome finished Star Wars-Zen Trooper runs a respective $9.99, $19.99, $29.99 for each available size. On October 5, 2015, Milnes reported on his Facebook page how he is printing these Zen figurines these days:

“Just got a Wanhao Duplicator 5s for super-maxi-tall pieces. 12″ L x 8″ W x 23″ H. Was $1800 w/ free shipping to US. 3 year warranty. Amazed by: The build quality, the speed, the print quality. 12″ tall Swamp Green Yoda Buddha shown in photos.”

You can check out the 12″ tall Swamp Green Yoda Buddha and the 3D printer that spawned him in the photo at the top of this article. Milnes is clearly a dedicated 3D printing artist, and his work beyond the controversial Laughing Buddha series is also displayed on his Facebook page — which has a whopping 3,687 Likes, by the way. Tell us your thoughts on this latest work in the 3D Printed Laughing Buddha Series forum over at 3DPB.com.

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Some selections from the artist’s Etsy shop

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