December 30, 2006

Bringing Virtual Art into the Real World



This morning I found my way to a site called Fabjectory. They provide a service which makes real life 3D copies of SL avatars using a 3D printing process, using equipment made by ZCorp. The rapid prototyping machine creates objects by laying down .040" layers of plaster power covered with colored glue.

Making avatars is their main marketing point, but they also make real world versions of other things. They don't say how the data is transfered but I'm guessing they use a scripted tool inworld to read the geometry, location and properties of the prims then import that information into their own CAD software.


I saw a variety of these 3D printers at a trade show this summer. In addition to plaster, they also make objects using clear and colored plastic, and a bronze/stainless steel powder composite. The cost of these machines start at a few thousand dollars, which is the only reason I don't have one. Below is a picture of two art objects made using powdered metal. The one in the foreground contains nested copies of itself, like Russian Dolls. This was not assembled but made complete in one process.




The intended purpose of these printers is to make quick prototype parts for research and development of products, but as the cost has come down and the quality gone up they have begun to be used by artists to make finished items. The Bathsheba Sculpture website has some good expamples of this. Also this article, A Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities.



2 comments:

Michael said...

Hi, thanks for your writeup of Fabjectory's SecondLife services.

We actually use OGLE (the OpenGL Extractor) utility to pull out the geometry and textures. From there, we go in and fix up the model that is pulled out.

We're very eager to help artists with their custom work and can do some neat things to help you out as far as fulfillment, custom builds, etc.

Anyone with ideas for projects, or just questions can email me at:

mike@fabjectory.com

or give me a call at 330.329.8016

Thanks,

Mike Buckbee
Fabjectory Founder

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