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At the intersection of art and 3D printing stands one man named Ioan Florea who’s been able to captivate the attention of large audiences in ways that were unimaginable only a few short years ago. Florea first garnered attention within the art world when he introduced his Liquid Metal Car, a Gran Torino which was modified using an innovative new 3D printing technique. I was able to see this spectacular piece of work at the Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo last year and frankly was blown away.c9

A year has passed since that time and Florea continues to use his unique approach of 3D modeling and printing to create works of art which are unlike anything you’ve ever seen in the past. In fact at this year’s 3D Print Week New York, he was on hand with his latest creation, a Camaro which has been partially 3D printed. I was able to sit down with Florea and discuss this incredible piece in detail as well as his thoughts on the industry and what he may be up to next.

Whereas his Gran Torino was created using 3D printed molds from voxeljet machines, the Camaro, on the other hand, featured individually modeled components, all which had actually been printed. Just glancing at the vehicle anyone can see that this is an incredibly tedious project, but what I learned from chatting with Florea is that much more work actually went into this project than may be apparent to most.

Florea had control over every process of its creation, not only modeling each intricate component himself, but going as far as manufacturing every single strand of filament he had used to print these pieces. Florea explained to me that he had constructed his own filament extruder, modifying an open source design. This allowed him to manufacture his own ABS filament, dyeing it to precise colors required for the realization of his vision.

c2He then used this filament within multiple LulzBot Taz 4 desktop 3D printers to fabricate the designs he had modeled. As each piece was created he would use a special glue-like material, which he also formulated himself. The ‘glue’ is actually a mixture of nanoclay and red pigment, which he created in a process he calls pigment fused deposition. Spending countless hours, he first started by gluing his 3D printed pieces along the center of the Camaro, creating a spine-like feature. From there he worked from the center on out, placing his 3D printed designs in various orientations, making sure to mirror both sides, using the spinal feature as a reflection point.

All the 3D prints were fabricated on the LulzBot Taz 4, with the exception of a larger piece on the hood for which he used a voxeljet machine. Florea told us that he preferred using the TAZ 4 because of the print quality as well as the open source nature of the machines, which allowed him to manipulate the frames in order to enlarge the print envelope if required.

The Camaro project commenced back in September and was completed only weeks ago, just in time for what likely was the largest 3D printing expo we have see yet. Florea compared the reaction that guests had towards his latest Camaro creation with that of his Gran Torino that he toured with last year. Overall, people were seemingly drawn more towards the Camaro, wanting to touch it and interact with it more so than the Gran Torino, he told us, as we watched dozens of people snap photographs of the vehicle within a 15 minute time frame.c5

Florea’s work is exceptionally creative, a work of art which is as unique as anything we’ve ever seen before. While I could easily see a small market for art like this, Florea is still considering whether or not he will eventually auction the Camaro or his other pieces off. The sheer number of eyeballs drawn to his work shows us that these are pieces which could certainly appeal to collectors around the globe. With that said, Florea seemed a tad bit frustrated when a few individuals ask him why he would bother creating such a piece. “Why take a functional object like a car, and turn it into a non functioning piece of artwork?” many individuals asked.

This begs the question–what is the definition of art, exactly? Florea wants to hear your thoughts. Is this art? Should he auction these vehicles off? Would anybody buy them? Let us know your thoughts in the 3D Printed Camaro forum thread on 3DPB.com.

Meanwhile Florea is considering his next project, sure to encompass 3D printing in one way or another. Although he wouldn’t divulge his exact plans, he did inform us that he’s in discussions with a museum in Illinois, his home state, to use an old airplane fuselage for his next canvas. We will certainly be following his work over the months and years ahead, anxiously awaiting his next innovative piece.

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