Dutch designer Joris Laarman is on the leading edge of artistic 3D printing metal fabrication with a new technique he calls MX3D-Metal.
Laarman, with the cooperation and support of Autodesk, has arrived at a method of 3D printing metal structures with a freeform flair.
In developing the software to drive the robotic arm driven machine, Laarman created an "art welder" which can create additive forms fit for the museum space. Varying the settings for the MX3D-Metal, his machine traces out straight, curved or spiral designs.
"Everyone who says 3D printing is just pressing a button doesn't really know how it works," Laarman says. "It's very hands-on and very elaborate. When people think of digital fabrication, they usually think of 3D printing. We were all a bit bored with all the tiny, keychain-sized things people were making, so we really tried to push it to a higher level by using real materials like wood and metals."
Laarman's Amsterdam think tank and lab works in the fields of digital fabrication and computational design with major institutes like MIT, IAAC, ETH and the Architectural association to develop "new concepts for the digital fabrication revolution," and the designer says his team of craftsmen, software and robotic engineers are bent on pushing the boundaries of what can be considered additive manufacturing.
Working in conjunction with leading 3D design software makers, Autodesk, and the members of his team, Maurice Conti,Filippo Gilardi, Tim Geurtjens and Corné Henselmans, Laarman is creating some stunning pieces.
Once such piece, the artist's Dragon Bench,is a testament to what happens when art meets technology in the service of practicality. The bench is an airy, undulating piece wrought from stainless steel and an algorithm of his design.
"I wanted to create a large sculptural work in order to show the machine's capabilities," Laarman said. "The organically shaped mesh creates a nice contour, but is an open construction at the same time. It shows what we can do right now."
Laarman experiments with digital fabrication design in startling ways, and some of his other works like the open-source Maker chair and table are on display as well. The files are soon to be available online and the chairs can be built from several tiled parts and clicked together like a puzzle. According to Laarman, anyone should be able to 3D print the individual tiles and assemble the pieces for less than $50.
Joris Laarman Lab: Bits and Crafts is on display at the Friedman Benda gallery in New York, through June 14, 2014.