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10,000 Hours of 3D Printing Bring Larger-Than-Life Cast Bronze Sculpture to Georgia Tech

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We always take great pleasure in writing about the convergence of 3D printing and the art world, and it is hard to imagine anyone not being impressed by some of the latest objects created by the LulzBot TAZ 3D printer—actually, a whole lab full of them.

Indeed, great 3D printing power was behind the fabrication of a recent large sculpture envisioned and designed by Julian Voss-Andreae. With international fanfare behind him already, the ambitious maker and sculptor is being featured in the media, to include television, not only for his artistic talent, but also for his choice of technology in meeting his creative goals.

“3D printing and subsequent direct casting allows me to create sculptures of essentially arbitrary design for a price that is comparable with traditional hand sculpting methods,” said Voss-Andreae.

A female figure, made larger than life, will soon be sitting outside the Engineered Biosystems Building at Georgia Tech. Not only is the feminine art piece incredible and substantial on its own as an art form, but Voss-Andreae also had an environmental agenda: the open design of the piece will allow for plants to grow within and around it.

3D printing was used to make molds for the sculpture, with the end product made in cast bronze—a material the artist was interested in using due to its rich patina and reputation for low maintenance. Creating the piece did take about 10,000 hours of print time on the LulzBots though—producing more than 100 pieces made with PLA. The LulzBot team explained more about the process:

“The pieces are coated with a sealant to smooth the surface finish, and then prepared for casting with repeated dipping in a ceramic slurry. Once the ceramic shell is appropriately thick, the PLA pattern is burned out in a kiln, leaving a perfect negative mold that the molten bronze is poured into.

After cooling, the mold is broken away, and the bronze parts are sandblasted to leave a clean and uniform finish. Then, the parts are assembled and welded together one by one, a huge and complicated 3D puzzle. Finally, the welds are tooled out to ensure everything is smooth and ready for the patina.”

3D printing and casting techniques used together allow for great potential in finely detailed jewelry, in industrial uses, and in art including in cast bronze sculpture. Voss-Andreae is also interested in using the 3D printers for more than just molds as he understands the potential for creating useful components and sculptural planning parts. The artist is pleased with his choice in the open-source desktop 3D printers, the quality of which he says is “pretty much as good as it gets.” That’s a serious compliment for the LulzBot 3D printer when you consider how many 3D printers are being manufactured today.

“They build useful parts, including parts used to upgrade them. They also print maquettes and parts of sculptures we are working on to plan the fabrication process and to aid in visualizing the end product,”  Voss-Andreae said.

“The main benefit to me is that I am now able to create life-size bronze sculptures for a price that allows experimentation.”

The German-born sculptor moved to the US to study at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. He is now based in Portland, Oregon. Find out more about Julian Voss-Andreae here. Below, the artist takes us through a tour of his 3D printing process:

Discuss in the 3D Printed Sculpture forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source/Images: LulzBot]

 

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