Stijn van der Linden, perhaps better known in 3D printing circles as "Virtox," is an artist and designer with an abiding passion for 3D printing.
Born and raised near Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the 36 year-old van der Linden is a self-taught 3D artist and programmer who began his love affair with computers at a very early age.
After completing his formal technical education as an electrical engineer, he landed a job as a software programmer, a career path he followed for the next ten years. During that period, van der Linden says he continually fought a nagging desire to become an artist and designer. He spent much of his free time creating renderings and virtual photographs of non-existent objects until, at the end of 2008, he discovered the nascent art form of 3D printing via his purchase of a 3D printer of his own.
"I literally spent hours watching it work, and work and work, meticulously laying down layer after layer," van der Linden said. "Shortly thereafter, I saw the SLS machines at Shapeways in Eindhoven. They were even more impressive – it's quite the factory."
That discovery, and a couple of fortunate life events, led him to an opportunity to switch careers. He started an art and design studio and opened up a web shop very soon after.
These days, van der Linden works from a cozy corner of the living room/office he shares with his wife and toddler.
"Office hours are quite spread out over the day, as I also have the privilege to take care of our boy," he says. "It's a bit hectic at times, so I often work very early mornings before the house wakes up. I work whenever I can during the day."
The work he does during the day, creating amazing pieces which can seem at once art and impossible science and engineering, has become a bit of a phenomena.
One piece in particular, Gyro the Cube, has developed an admiring following which makes it one of the most popular items available on Shapeways.com. When it was unveiled, it's release led to van der Linden being accused of "fakery and witchcraft" by people who said his creation was simply impossible. It's a kinetic sculpture which wobbles and turns with a slight movement of the hand. A spin or puff of air creates an "erratic and wild behavior" in the piece, and people are quite simply mesmerized by seeing it in motion.
Composed of four concentric cubes, each cube spins around a different axis to create the object's movement. The model does, according to van der Linden, need minor assembly: each inner cube has two small knobs which are placed into corresponding clamps in the parent cube. What you have when you're finished is astonishing and lovely.
How cool is it? Cool enough to generate more than three-quarters of a million views of it working on YouTube: