While 3D printing is a technology that is being used to manufacture medical devices and implants, aerospace components, prosthetics, and a multitude of other serious and utilitarian tools, we have reported on a number of cases where 3D printing is helpful in communication — in a big way, literally.
Being able to print out letters, offering tangible words, sentences, and directions, has an impact few of us would think of on a daily basis as we take our eyesight and other senses for granted; however, 3D printing has been invaluable in offering assistance to the visually impaired whether they are desiring to read, navigate their way around a cultural area in a cityscape with museums and buildings with multiple floors and doors, or even experience things like outer space or art with 3D printed accents that allow them to have a full ‘picture’ of something.
While 3D printed items are helpful to the visually impaired and blind, it’s been pointed out that they are actually helpful to and enjoyed by everyone at times, which is the case with designer Hongtao Zhou’s 3D printed ‘textscapes,’ which are featured as a recent DIY submission at DesignBoom, where they welcome such projects from budding artists and innovators.
Using a high-tech process to harken back to the ancient, Hongtao Zhou uses his textscapes as a brilliant platform for reminding us of the sturdy, classic and traditional methods of printing. Alluding to the block printing that was performed in ancient China, Hongtao Zhou has 3D printed stunning artwork in the form of documents with raised lettering.
“Printing technology was first created in ancient China to reproduce text using woodblocks, however today’s definition had been widely adopted in 3D printing, an additive process more often to create objects instead of duplicate text,” said Hongtao Zhou.
He is able to produce actual documents that serve as true forms of communication, while also having the benefit of being aesthetically pleasing. Each letter is uniform and perfect, and he has produced entire passages for anyone who wants to enjoy them, but they are particularly appreciated by the visually impaired. Hongtao Zhou is able to combine both art and knowledge, and the medium he has created has great potential for a variety of uses, including education.
His goal is not only an artistic one, but the focus is on communication and comprehension, with variations in his series which cover:
- Different language characters
He also tackles number systems in his project, hoping “to bridge the typography and its appearance in the architecture, landscapes, portraits, and abstract matters of cities.”
What type of statement do you think Hongtao Zhou’s 3D printed documents make regarding culture, history, and communication? Have you 3D printed any text? Share with us in the Textscapes forum over at 3DPB.com.
Dr. Hongtao Zhou is a designer, artist and researcher. He works in many disciplines from furniture to architecture and sculpture. Beginning his career in China, he is now an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii-Manoa working in design and art. His focus is on sustainability, climate and culture.
Tyler Francisco and Rhealyn Dalere, and Chin Fang, artists and designers, participated in the project as well. They are all attendees of The School of Architecture at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.[Source: DesignBoom]