We have already covered Aztec Scenic Design’s incredible design work that captures ancient Islamic aesthetics using modern technology design and production through 3D printing. And for anyone who is a fan of the company’s intricate design patterns, there’s good news. They continue to grow and expand their repertoire of incredible patterns, while also growing more technically sophisticated. One of the great contributions that 3D print technology makes to the design world is its encouragement of detail and pattern, and Aztec Scenic Design has no shortage of these qualities in all of its work, and they have grown more adept in their use of 3D printing along the way.
Mark Leonard handles the 3D printing for the company, which is made up of designers, fabricators, and artists, all from various backgrounds who use traditional methods of artistic production as well as 3D printing. One look at the work Aztec produces leaves you wondering, how do they make this? And Leonard has thankfully taken some time to explain his creative and production process in detail. He had background in CAD before being exposed to 3D printing, he reports in an interview, and he moved on to experimenting with Blender, which taught him modeling, animating, and rendering, and he also used 123Design for modeling. Finally, he uses Autodesk’s Fusion 360 for design software, while his first 3D printer is an 8″ Makerfarm Prusa i3. With this printer, he started off making mainly molds for Aztec before expanding to larger projects that used 3D printing more, like these ceilings, as he explains:
“Those ceilings, for me anyways, were life absorbing,” Leonard said. “I spent every waking moment working on them and I lost total track of time. I really wanted to push the limits of 3D printing and take it as far as possible until somebody told me to stop… But I simply cannot tell you how much time we spent in total on that project. I just stayed super-focused and tried to make the ceilings as cool as I could until the bossman said ‘enough’. Personally, I could have kept going and adding finer detail forever, but there is this odd thing called a ‘budget’.”
Leonard also explains that there’s a large learning curve for the mechanical side of 3D printing and his experience over time has allowed him to drop down his time spent on machines from 50% (which is his estimate for the first ceiling projects) to only 5% today.
“Personally, I own one Makerfarm Prusa 8 inch and two 10 inch. I also recently bought a Rostock Max V2 from seemecnc,” Leonard notes of his 3D printing evolution. “Austin Butler, another member of the Aztec team has a Ditto+ from Tinkerine. Each machine is different and I try to capitalise on each machines different capabilities. Most of our printers are very moddable/hackable, so I am constantly tweaking in order to make each printer better, faster and more reliable. My absolute favourite printer is the Rostock Max V2 with cyclops nozzle. Although it’s the new kid on the block, I love it and have a lot of fun to watch it print. I still have much tweaking to do to perfect it, but am enjoying learning the ropes of dual extrusion.”
Now that he’s learned 3D printing so well, it’s the post-processing, he explains, that takes up more of his time. And from looking at his completed work, that is colorful, complex, and layered (inspired by Islamic design patterns, which are some of the most beautiful in the world), you can see how post-processing would play an important role in the completed pieces. He credits his own sculpting experience for helping his work along, as well as a “myriad of products” and techniques including covering prints with fiberglass resin, like Bondo, for a period of time. He reports that as his print quality improves, he can sand them immediately, spray paint a couple coats of primer/filler (like RustOleum filler/primer) on until they are smooth.
And what a stunning and captivating result all of this design, printing, and post-processing work achieves. Leonard also has other projects in the works that are 3D printed but quite different in application. He’s currently creating a prototype for a portable desalinating water filter machine using Arduino for electronics with a touchscreen LCD for use in Mexican hospitals. Not too shabby.
Whether it’s designing and printing the next great work of architectural art of inventing a user-friendly water filter machine, we are sure to hear more from the folks at Aztec Scenic Design, and the group’s lead 3D printing expert, Mark Leonard. Let us know what you think of their work in the Aztec Scenic Design forum thread over at 3DPB.com.