When it comes to 3D printing, there are several individuals who you could consider to be superstars within the space. Names such as Bre Pettis, Avi Reichental, RichRap, Brook Drumm, Andreas Bastian, and Hod Lipson, would ring a bell with many individuals who consider themselves hardcore enthusiasts. Another name that should be on this list is Joris Peels. He seems to have his hands in just about everything when it comes to 3D printing, and is one of the more well respected individuals within the space. Currently working as the Community Manager for Ultimaker‘s 3D printing repository, YouMagine, as well as being a freelance consultant for the industry, he has also held jobs with companies such as Materialise, Shapeways, and others. He even helped co-found a 3D printing startup called Origo 3D printing a while back.
Like all good innovative minds, Peels never really feels as though his job is complete. He’s always trying to bring new creations into reality. This is the case with his latest website that he has now launched with social entrepreneur Christina Rebel, called Oblique.
“There is a lot going on in 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing,” Peels tells 3DPrint.com. “Many press releases, new start ups and developments. Lots of noise but very few signals. What we hope to do with Oblique is to capture, catalog and preserve what is going on in 3D printed art, fashion and design. We want to spot trends and important developments as they occur. Most of the news coming out about 3D printing makes one believe that everything can be 3D printed. Whether things are functional or if there is a business case for them is glossed over. In art and design meanwhile we see a lot of people getting their feet wet with the technology. Lots of PR, but very little cutting edge work moving the technology into new areas and applications.”
Peels feels that we see a ton of “noise” being made by marketers, and this makes it difficult for us to decipher what is truly a significant breakthrough from what is purely genuine “BS.” With Oblique, however, Peels and Rebel believe that by focusing their attention on the cutting edge work that is put forth by talented designers, and then analyzing trends which start to form, they can help predict where the 3D printing design space will go in the future.
“We hope by cataloguing this work we can give ourselves and others insight into what is happening and has happened,” explains Peels. “The current Cambrian explosion of start ups is obscuring the truly significant advances. It is also important to know your history, if I asked a lot of people who the first artist to use 3D printing was, I’d probably get a lot of different answers. But, I’d probably not get the right one. Celebrated artist Frank Stella has been 3D printing art since the beginning of the 90’s, using the technology right after stereolithography was commercialized.”
It is Peels’ and Rebel’s hope that by sharing this type of information, they can help people understand 3D printing’s past and present, as well as perhaps even predict the future. The past and present are filled with designs that seem to all follow the same paths as far as methodologies go. We see all sorts of new designs emerging from the 3D printing space, but the majority of these all look relatively similar. Peels believes we need to break free from this pattern, where people are basically taking other designers’ ideas and barely modifying them in creating their own works. He also believes we are currently in a “prototype” phase where most 3D printed designs are only good for prototyping, while not actually being very functional.
“On the whole we can see a trend whereby if a designer is using 3D printing for 3D printing’s sake the work will probably not be very meaningful and breakthrough,” states Peels. “If the idea is to use 3D printing in and of itself the work will, on the whole be boring and add little value to the sum total of things that exist. If designers on the other hand are trying to solve a problem whose solution is 3D printing then we see breakthrough work that is often also somehow more beautiful and meaningful.”
These are all great points that Peels makes, and hopefully through Oblique, he and Rebel will be able to “Peel” back the mundane, opening up more avenues for innovation and then help designers “Rebel” against current ideologies. When it comes to design work, 3D printing is only beginning to break the surface. Once more designers realize that they can be innovative, not just in the designs they come up with but the way in which those designs are created, we will really begin to see this space explode with innovation and incredible works of art.
While many of us are already familiar with Joris Peels, most of us probably aren’t too familiar with Christina Rebel. Rebel considers herself a “social entrepreneur” and has been working on bringing 3D printing and other digital manufacturing technologies to communities and companies around the globe. She has taken it upon herself to help create fablabs and innovation spaces for many corporations and is currently working on setting a lab up in Chengdu, China.
Between Peels and Rebel, there is plenty of knowledge and creativity to go around. Through Oblique, they hope to spread this information to the masses. Be sure to check out Oblique, and let us know what you think in the Oblique forum thread on 3DPB.com.