Avoiding Extinction: Art Professor 3D Prints Flowers to ‘Show What Exists Before it is Lost’

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One of Farris-LaBar’s 3D modeled flowers prior to printing.

Scientists estimate that every day, the earth bares witness to the loss and extinction of close to 200 different species of plants, insects, mammals and birds. These are eye-opening statistics that some believe are only the beginning of a mass extinction of life here on Earth. Luckily there are activists and supporters of wildlife preservation, those who volunteer their time, energy and money in order to help prevent the loss of various forms of life.

Darlene Farris-LaBar, an Associate Professor of Art, at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania has taken it upon herself to try and show the public the beauty seen among the native plants in the Pocono Region of her state, by utilizing 3D printing to do so. Using Rhino 3D, she designed individual flowers, that reside in the preserved and protected landscapes of the area.

3D Printed flowers, prior to being painted

3D Printed flowers, prior to being painted

“I taught myself how to use Rhino this summer to design the leaves and flowers of these special plants, Farris-LaBar told 3DPrint.com. “Each flower and leaf are fully 3D printed from a Stratysys Dimensions Elite 3D printer. Through these works, I hope to reveal what currently exists before it is lost. Some species are threatened by development, pollution, a changing climate and much more. 3D printing has provided me a new way of communicating about a pristine and special world to a busy culture that may be unable to explore such things in their everyday lives.”

It is Farris-LaBar’s hope that her 3D printed flowers can act as “3D field guides”, showing off the flowers’ unique characteristics to onlookers, while also working as an educational tool to create awareness of the dangers that these species of plants are faced with.

3D printed flowers after being painted

3D printed flowers after being painted

Once the flowers have be printed out, Farris-LaBar mounts them into plaster as a way to mimic the ground which they may have come from. “From the high technology of 3D printing to a more traditional form of hand molded plaster, these sculptures introduce the contrast of design skill from extremely different levels, she told us. “In this case, the plaster makes each sculpture an original. As an additional side-twist to the sculptures, inside each plaster base, is a compartment that offers a treasure map that would lead the viewer through these locations.”

flowers2Like you can see in the photos, the quality of prints that come off of the Stratasys Dimensions Elite are quite realistic looking, as the modeling that Farris-LaBar did was right on point. This just goes to show yet another great use that this up-and-coming technology of 3D printing is being utilized for, in order to make a difference for the better.

As for Farris-LaBar, she plans to continue to research, design and 3D print more plant species from around the world. She is currently working on creating a library of 3D plant designs that will be able to be downloaded and 3D printed anywhere in the world. “I also hope to use 3D printers with a much larger build for bigger models and finer detail capabilities for delicate features,” she explained. “It is my goal to use 3D printing to promote the natural beauty that exists on this planet.”

What do you think about Farris-LaBar’s use of 3D printing, in an effort to bring awareness to wildlife preservation? Discuss in the 3D Printed Flowers forum thread on 3DBP.com.

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