3D Printing Gets Political During 2016 US Presidential Race


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Desktop 3D printing has gone from being an obscure hobby to a legitimate industry in just a few short years, while industrial 3D printing isn’t being strictly used for prototyping in aerospace, automotive and for product design. Even the White House has taken notice of the potential of 3D printing (things tend to move slowly in Washington, DC). President Obama is the first president to be 3D scanned and printed. The White House displayed 3D printed ornaments on the Christmas tree and Obama has been a proponent of 3D printing technology.

While the White House has promoted the benefits of 3D printing, politically inspired 3D printing has been rather prosaic in comparison, or even vulgar. We’ve seen Donald Trump butt plugs and tampon holders, by Fernando Sosa, and a stress ball by Ricardo Salomao. Hillary Clinton has also seen her fair share of 3D printed merchandise, like the smartphone meme and action figure.

This is without a doubt the most hotly contested and divisive presidential race in recent memory. Grass roots democratic candidate Bernie Sanders vowed to fight at the Democratic Convention for a nomination before deciding to ultimately endorse Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee. Some of his ardent supporters refused to fall in line during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, while many prominent Republican figures declined to attend the Republican National Convention and Never Trumpers staged a last ditch effort against Donald Trump as the Republican standard bearer. In this tumultuous race we’ve seen a reality TV star and real estate mogul best his Republican rivals and the Democratic party nominate the first female presidential nominee.

With both the Republican and Democratic conventions over, let’s take a look at some other examples of how 3D printing played a role in this wild ride. While Bernie Sanders conceded defeat ahead of the Democratic National Convention, just a few months ago the movement was still burning bright, with Bernie supporters rallying around the dark horse candidate. Bernie bros and babes flocked to the #BernNYBern free concert at Flash Factory in Manhattan. The event was hosted by Susan Sarandon, Gaby Hoffman and Mickey Sumner and featured performances by Chappo, Wild Belle and even a Bernie Sanders cover band, The Bern All Star Band. Holy Faya, the Brooklyn-based 3D printed jewelry studio that created 3D printed props for a music video and exhibited at the Inside 3D Printing 3D Print Fashion Show, created a Bernie Sanders Love Temple Photo Booth and brought their MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printers to churn out blue and hot pink “Bernie for Democracy” rings during the event. Fellow 3D Print Fashion Show alumna Heidi Lee was also spotted in the crowd wearing her 3D printed Vortex Sun Hat.

It cannot be said that Donald Trump does things in small measures and he has made some bold promises, including building a great wall along the Mexican border. As previously reported, a life-sized 3D printed Donald Trump bobblehead greeted attendees at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. In fact, the statue was larger than life, standing at a full 7 feet tall. Artist Isaac Budmen created a 3D printed version of Hillary Clinton’s campaign logo. He also decided to take on Trump’s claim that under his presidency all Americans could become millionaires. Budmen, who literally wrote the book on 3D printing, created a 3D printed million dollar coin featuring Trump’s likeness for the non-partisan TRUMPMANIA art show in New York.  TRUMPMANIA successfully auctioned off the coin online. Budmen later had the coin cast in gold and exhibited it at Politicon: The Unconventional Political Convention in Pasadena, CA. Budmen says he created the piece to explore what Trump’s vision of new wealth might look like. As Budmen explains his motivation behind creating the piece:

“In President Trump’s version of the future where ‘we will be winning so much, we will be sick of it’ can we expect million dollar ‘Trumpillon’ coins to be the norm? Or is this a tale as tall as Trump’s towers?”

It’ll be interesting to see what other 3D printed art will be created for the remainder of the presidential election and how it will continue to evolve for future elections. Do you know of any other interesting uses of 3D printing for the 2016 presidential election? If so, please let us know! Discuss further in the 3D Printing in Political Race forum over at 3DPB.com.

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