Stewart Dickson, Sculptor
110 N. Whipple Street
Fort Bragg, CA  95437
(707)813-0385 (Tel) (e-mail)

Stereolithograph Fermat Surface A visualization of Fermat's Last Theorem rendered using Stereolithography.

Computer-Aided Rapid Mechanical Prototyping

or Automated Fabrication

A technology for constructing, through an additive deposition process, or directly printing in three physical dimensions, with real materials a replica of a computer-specified object.

My interpretation of this is the direct concretization of abstractly-specified form. In this arena, we may completely explore the meaning attached to form.

Reasons to make sculpture via direct 3-D printing:

Machines now exist which allow building objects which defy reproduction via mold-making -- 'ink-jet' printers, selective laser-sintering devices build directly in wax. The only challenge is investing or ceramic shell dipping without cavitation. This is generally an easier job than designing a multi-piece mold.

Color 3-D printers now build computer-specified color texture directly modeled-in to the 3-D part. It is possible to reproduce surface coloration which defies reproduction by hand -- i.e., spaces where a paint brush can't fit.

Automation allows construction of long sequences of slow metamorphosis -- subtle changes from phase to phase at a scale to allow packing onto a bicycle wheel, as I have done. The 'morphing' object in my Zoetrope is around one inch high.

All 3-D mechanical 'Rapid-Prototyping' technologies, except perhaps robotic coil-welding, employ some kind of slice-wise decomposition of the CAD object and layer-wise construction.

There is a small class of machines which can literally construct objects based upon an arbitrary series of image slices, independent of any polygon-based representation of the geometrical object. This will allow construction of pixel-volume-based objects, including 'furry' objects and deterministic fractals. The only limitation will be the size of the smallest solid particle the printer is capable of resolving.

Yet to come -- machines capable of building in composite materials -- the generalization of photographic layer-wise micromanufacturing (involving, silicon, silicon dioxide, aluminum, copper, epoxy, ...) and hybridization with 3-D free-form fabrication. To be able to directly design-in opto-electro-mechanics at a sub-component level -- such that there are no components! There is only the construction of the machine as an organic integration.

Right now, direct 3-D printing of computer data provides access to science and visual computing for the visually disabled.

SLS 3-D Fractal Julia Set A 3-D fractal rendered using Selective Laser Sintering.
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