3D Printers Begin to Make Major Impact On Broadway

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In the last couple of years we have seen a dramatic shift in the use of consumer based 3D printers within business oriented atmospheres. This is likely because consumer based 3D printers are increasing their utility, as well as efficiency. Dbroad2esigners for plays on Broadway, and in theaters across the globe are beginning to realize the usefulness of this awesome new technology, when modelling their sets. John Lee Beatty, a famed theater set designer, for many plays, both on and off Broadway, sat down recently with Playbill to discuss just how important 3D printing has become to his livelihood.

“At first, we only 3D-printed small pieces, like furniture and window frames, incorporated with traditional modeling materials like matte board and bass wood,” stated Beatty. “Now, the desktop printers we use are larger, and we can print entire scenic units in scale.

Beatty, as well as other set designers have been using 3D printing for a couple of years now, and have already noticed a dramatic increase in technological progress within the industry. In a matter of a couple of years they have gone from being able to print smaller models of windows, doors, and furniture, which they then adhered to matte board to produce a finished sections of a set model. Today they can print larger, more detailed units, including entire scenic units to scale.

Beatty predicts that the 3d printing industry will continue its rapid advance, becoming almost a necessity within the theater set design industry.broad1

He said, “We may eventually be building the full scale scenery with a 3D printer,” he theorized. “In fact, in a pinch, we’ve been able to manufacture small pieces of the finished scenery with a 3D printer now. The stove hardware in “Outside Mullinger” was 3D-printed. And this past summer, when we worked on the Public’s Shakespeare in the Park production of Comedy of Errors, we 3D-printed oversized finials when the supplier failed to deliver in time.”

Below there is a video from 2012 where, Kacie Hultgren, an associate of John Lee Beatty, discusses and shows off her work with Makerbot 3D printers. Note that this was nearly 2 years ago, and since this time, Kacie has upgraded her 3D printing hardware so that she can build larger, more accurate models, as well as actual set objects. Discuss this story at 3DPrintBoard.

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