Exclusive Interview with 3D Character Artist Ben De Angelis on 3D Printing’s Future & His Designs


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ben-tikiOne of the great things about 3D printing is that 3D designers don’t really need to learn an entirely new trade in order to get into the swing of things when it comes to fabricating unique 3D printable creations. Take for example Ben De Angelis of Follygon. He is a Cincinnati-based designer who started out in 3D animation, yet has quickly become quite keen on creating 3D printable content. Many of his designs are currently available on 3DSha.re, where anyone with a 3D printer can easily download them and then print them out at home. Some of his designs which are exclusive to 3DSha.re include the Tiki Man, a High Poly Female Norn figure, and his 3D printable Bowser. 3DPrint.com recently had an opportunity to interview De Angelis on 3D printing, his past, and where he sees the technology going in the future.

What got you into 3D design and when did you first hear about the possibilities of 3D printing?

De Angelis: I’m kind of new to the whole 3D scene and I was honestly honored to hear that you wanted to interview me. I would love to say something like “From a young age I began playing with Play-Doh obsessively… ” but sadly that wouldn’t be the truth.

The truth is, when I started college I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. It wasn’t until my second year that I decided that I wanted to become an animator. It wasn’t until my third year that I found out what being an animator really meant. It was not the correct career choice for me. During this year long journey into animation I had created very few 3D models and modeling was very far from the forefront of my mind.

The Greek Fountain

The Greek Fountain

Some time after that I acquired a job at my university working as a web and graphic designer. Shortly after, they purchased a 3D printer with the plans of allowing students to use it freely. Funny thing, I was the only student on the entire campus that knew anything about 3D modeling and printing. So I became the official tester, and only user, for our very first 3D printer. The first model I ever spent any amount of actual effort on came out of that machine. It was a Greek fountain, and I was really proud of it. I never really thought of it before but I guess that’s kind of how it all started!

From there, I studied abroad in Tokyo for a semester and during my down time I began using a little program called ZBrush. By the time I had returned home I had some free time before classes started back up. I worked on improving my skills as much as I could during the rest of that year any chance I got in between classes. After graduation, I decided that it was time to kick it up a notch again when it came to 3D modeling. I decided that I would make a new 3D model every day until either my hand fell off or I decided that I didn’t want to do it any longer. I also decided to share it all online! The good, the bad, the horrendous. All of it! That was about 100 days ago and I’m still going strong! I work on new things every day trying to improve my skills. I have become a firm believer in the phrase practice makes perfect and that practice has become a huge part of my life.

If you would like to see some of my models please check out my Daily Sculptbook.

What is your favorite design to date and why?

De Angelis: Oh gosh, that is a really hard question for me to answer. Honestly it is typically whatever I am working on for the time being, as I’m working on something new almost every day. But if I had to pick one I guess it would have to be my Octopus Woman Bust. It’s one of my first really original designs, and it holds a special place in my collection. Although it may have its flaws I am still proud of it.

Octopus Woman - Available to download and print from 3DSha.re

Octopus Woman – Available to download and print from 3DSha.re

Do you think 3D designers will be limited in their progress if the 3D world sticks to a ‘free’ sharing community of files?

De Angelis: I don’t think so. And by I don’t think so, I mean I don’t even think that is a possibility. Of course there will always be free sharing communities, but the demand is exponentially increasing right now and the market is seeing a huge need for 3D artists. Whether it be for mechanical parts or artistic commissions the need is growing. New innovative things seem to be happening every day. The way I see it, 3D printing has a very bright future and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes and where it takes me.

How far do you think we can go with 3D printing? Now cars, carbon fiber, and electricity conducting objects can be produced — what is the limit in you mind?

ben-femaleDe Angelis: How far? Maybe Mars? Honestly, I have no idea. I’m no expert on the matter, but I can tell you what I would love to see in my lifetime. I want to see the bio-printing of organs to save lives. I want to break a glass in my kitchen, walk over to my 3D printer and make a new one right in my home. I want to 3D print new clothes for myself and never have to do laundry again! I want the future now! But that’s all a long way off, and I’m still waiting on a self charging cell phone first. So for now, I’ll just keep dreaming!

De Angelis currently is open for commissioned work and asks that interested parties email him at Follygon[at]gmail[dot]com. What do you think of some of his 3D printable designs? Will you be downloading and printing any of them from 3DSha.re? Discuss in the 3DShare Artist Ben De Angelis forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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