There is an increasing realization that the divide between art and mathematics is an artificial one. One person who has known this all along is digital sculptor and mathematician Rinus Roelofs. The complex mathematical structures that are his playground are not always easy to create using traditional methods and so, for a recent creation, he turned to 3D printing as the best method for production of his final piece entitled “Cylindrical Knot.”
Practicing in the Netherlands where he was born and raised, Roelofs has made a name for himself as a pioneer in the field of digital sculpture. His most recent creation was unveiled in his native country this past week at the RapidPro trade show and has caused quite a stir. The nearly eight foot tall piece is the expression of a mathematical concept that Roelofs had been kicking around in his head for several years but that he believed might not be possible to create because of its geometric complexity in combination with its size. The folks at 3Dealise, however, believed that they could help this piece move out of Roelofs’ imagination and set about working with him on its production. The challenge of producing such a piece was an opportunity that the 3Dealise printing company couldn’t resist.
CEO Roland Stapper explained:
“This new technology is important for two reasons: First, it demonstrates that ‘freedom of design’ is available for large items, such as this 2.3-metre-tall work of art. 3D printing is often associated with relatively small parts, but the benefits are equally available for large parts. A universe of new design possibilities is unlocked for artists and designers this way. Second, because this technology is capable of producing large metal items, it shows that structurally strong and vandal proof items can be made with 3D printing. This is essential for outdoor display of works of art.”
To create such a large piece, 3Dealise used a two-step process that is nearly a work of art in and of itself. The first step is undertaken using a 3D printer of nearly epic proportions. With a build volume of 70″ x 40″ x 28″ (1800 x 1000 x 700 mm) this machine is capable of producing large scale molds roughly the size that would be required for a superhero to dash into for her/his quick change routine. These molds can then be stacked together to create even larger forms. This gargantuan mold is then used to cast the sculpture itself, making the realization of Roelofs’ cylindrical knot more than mere fantasy.
And for the sculptor, this was a dream come true:
“I have had the idea for this sculpture for a long time, and only in the late 90s the software was advanced enough to be able to design it. Since then, I have tried to realise the sculpture, which has been a challenge. First, I made a version with digitally cut layers of wood glued together. 3D printing a small version in plastic became possible a few years back. And for the first time now, it has been possible to make a life-size version in one piece, as the sculpture was intended.”
What do you think of this piece? Discuss in the 3Dealise 3D Printed Sculpture forum over at 3DPB.com.