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Tobias Klein at the 3D Printshow

As the UK’s largest reseller of Stratasys machines, the Laser Lines team will be showcasing the latest additive manufacturing techniques at this year’s 3D Printshow this month.

But Jigs and fixtures aside, we’ve also had the pleasure of working with Hong-Kong based German architect and Asia’s leading professor in new media art, Tobias Klein – who will also be talking at the event.

Tobias has used 3D printing to create – amongst other things – his series of sculptural 3D printed vases and urns called The Vessels of Vanitas based on Magnetic Resonance Images (MRIs) of his own body and the space within it. He agreed to let us print the first of the vessels from one of our Stratasys machines, and we will be presenting it to him at 3D Printshow.

We asked him about the challenges he is facing using AM (additive manufacturing) techniques in his art as well as his innovative use of colour in 3D printing.

So Tobias, what is your take on colour in 3D printing – are the technology and materials ready for it yet?

The work of myself, Francois Veraat, Francis Bitonti and Nick Ervinck already showed at the last 3D Printshow that the technology is 100 percent able to deliver high-quality gradient colour printing results. Together with Adobe and the ability to paint virtually every gradient into the mapping of any object, colour printing is ready.

The only difficulty at this point in time is the software interface between the various platforms, something that should be resolved within the coming months and then be fully integrated into the workflow of any design practice.

Are you frustrated by how difficult it is to get colour into your 3D printed pieces?

The situation is hugely frustrating as this problem has not been resolved and full-spectrum gradient colour-based printing is difficult to achieve due to this incompatibility and different software protocols. However, on the positive side this creates a challenge to work differently, and I am working on a fully supported 3D printing project at the moment that integrates 3D projection mapping into the traditional elaborate masks of the Chinese Opera. That way, the precision of 3D printing and the exuberance of my designs became interactive and change with the changing of colour projections.

How do you, as an engineer, get the best out of 3d printers to create and interpret your vision?

I am not an engineer by trade but studied architecture, which involves the idea of design as an interplay of engineering, craftsmanship and art. With this background I would advise anybody who wants to push the limits of any machining process to respect tolerances, understand the static of a complex model and the dynamism of certain plastics when reacting under heat.

Can you tell us a bit about your favourite colour technologies?

At this point in time my favourite is the Objet500 Connex3 by Stratasys. It might not be the most sustainable or the most precise technology but it is, to date, the most amazing technology if we are talking about multi-materials and colours in a single print.

Is the technology catching up fast enough with your desire to use colour?

This is a tricky question. Technology is only as fast as the demands we direct at it. The designs and requirements need to increase for the technology to evolve faster – a simple rule of supply and demand – but I think we will see a plethora of colour-integrating technologies emerging in the very near future.

Can you give us a preview of what you are going to be talking about at 3D Printshow.

I will be talking about the human side of creation in 3D printing and in the use of complex human data sets. The work I will show and talk about, The Vessels of Vanitas project, is an intimate and personal encounter with the concept of vanitas, the ars moriendi and the memento mori in a culture, post the image and believe spaces of medieval and renaissance times.

Today in a time of scientific reason and post modernity, when one’s own withering transience is an essential human defining element, this work takes reference from one of the oldest crafts in human history – the making of vessels for human remains – and celebrates the human body in the spirit of the memento mori, allowing a bridge to be established between scientific rationale and emotional belief spaces.

My Studio’s long research into MRIs (magnetic resonance image) of the body, and the translation of such body spaces into the digital workflows of today created digital material of my actual body, a ‘digital flesh’, static and void of narration other than the objectification of digital representation. The result is a complex interwoven work between a new craftsmanship and ancient questions of being.

Studio Tobias Klein is represented by Isis Phoenix Arts, email office@isisphoenixarts.com

Garden of Earthly Delights” photograph courtesy of Studio Tobias Klein

The Vessels of Vanitas” photographs courtesy of John Fahey/Laser Lines Ltd. 

3D Printshow takes place from 21-23 May 2015 at the Old Truman Brewery, London. Come and say hello to the Laser Line team at stand INL.

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