This page is not about 3D printing, but about how this new “industrial revolution” might also become a major tool for the artist.

Some call it rapid prototyping, and point to products such as Thing-o-Matic from MakerBot, and RepRap. Some consider it a fundamental shift in the world of design and production, moving from the factory to the home, e.g. mass customisation. Others note that rapid prototyping has been around for 20 years, and grew out of the CAD/CAM world.

3D printing offers a world of no-joints and seamless forms, bright colours (added “in” or painted “on”), and custom size (a little bigger, or just a little smaller). It is already affecting the design world, but not really the world of production. Making chess pieces on one-off novelty items in a garage somewhere is not going to change the world. On the other hand localised manufacturing and distribution involving no inventories, no assembly, minimal transport, and just-in-time totally customisable production would certainly change the world.

Check out and for more info. of 3D. And for the more art-motivated aspects have a look at

But some artists see it as a new tool, and the start of a kind of “Maker Movement”. This page will just give space to some of those artist-creator-producer’s.

Lets kick off with the Fractal Table (2007) by Gernot Oberfell and Jan Wertel (check out their London & Munich-based company). Others attribute this design to “Patform Wertel Oberfell and Matthias Bär”, but in any case the designers claim you could only build such a table with a 3D printer (it looks as if Matthias Bär worked with Oberfell and Wertel during 2008/09).

Here the technique used is laser sintering where a laser selectively fuses powdered material by scanning cross-sections generated from a 3D description (e.g. CAD file) onto the surface of a powder bed. So the overall object is created layer-by-layer. In fact the Fractal Table is built of a small number of interlocking parts, as can be seen in the lower photograph, allowing an almost infinite variety of designs, colours and sizes.

Below we have The One Shot Stool (2006) by Patrick Jouin. This is a folding stool with no axle, no spring and no visible hinge. A vertical bundle of polyamide rods by the simple force of gravity unfold to become a seat. Again this is a product of selective laser sintering where the entire piece including the hidden and integral articulations is made in one shot.  

Michael Eden ( is an English ceramicist who melds traditional ceramics with 3D printing, additive layer manufacturing and non-fired materials. The first piece (working from top left) is A Rebours inspired by an unusual piece of Sèvres porcelain in the Wallace Collection (and made using additive layer manufacturing, which is really just another name for 3D printing). We must of course remember that this most prestigious French porcelain manufacturer actually was founded to imitate German hard-paste porcelain (e.g. Meissen), which was itself an imitation of Japanese and Chinese porcelain. So imitation is a starting point for many famous brands. Of course Sèvres was also imitated by many other “inferior” manufacturers. The second piece is Blue Bloom (one of the Bloom series) which is available for around >$5000 retail. This piece was modeled on a Wedgewood Potpourri vase ca. 1785.

What is amazing is the variety and complexity of form that are possible. For example below we have Maelstrom on the left (retailing for around €9,000) and on the right (retailing for around €10,000) the Babel Vessel modeled on an ancient Chinese hu, or 6th C ceremonial wine vessel. You can see the QR (Quick Response) code on the top, and it actually runs completely through the entire object.

Dirk van der Kooij is a Dutch furniture designer that uses 3D printing to create his “Endless” line. Endless refers to an endless thread of synthetic material that is used to “print” the furniture. The actual material used is from recycled refrigerator interiors. They retail fro around €700.

Jo Hayes Ward is a London jeweller who uses 3D printing to create the original forms for her pieces. Rapid prototyping is used to make a wax cast, the the body is cast using the lost wax process. and finally stones are set and the piece polished.  

Torolf Sauermann ( not sure if this is his home page) uses some software called TopMod which is an open-source 3D topological mesh modeling tool.

Sophie Kahn is an Australian born, Chicago-based artist using 3D scanning and printing. She sand-blasts the result to give it that “ancient artifact” look.

Drzach & Suchy use a “shadow casting” approach where a shadow cast by a physical object depends on the shape of the object and the direction of the illumination. Objects can be created that “store” and present multiple images (shadows) using just one physical object. This piece below is called Thru Religion and depending on the angle of illumination it casts different religious symbols.

Eyal Gever is (I think) an Israeli artist who capture, simulates and models awe inspiring moments and creates 3D models of those moments. Below we Levitation and Truck vs. Truck, followed by Blast Sphere and Large Scale Smoke.

On the down side the technique has been around for a while and is in many ways still not competitive with traditional methods neither in the variety of materials used, nor finish, nor cost. So whilst 3D printing will have its own “domain” it still can not compete with plastic, glass and metal, not to mention wood or textiles. It would appear that 3D printed art is also more expensive than “competing” art items.

Equally true, to be able to use the technology properly you need to be a bit of a designer, engineer, researcher, innovator and technologist. So the cards a stacked against the technology becoming rapidly main-stream as an artists tool.

Here below is a collection of linked that might be worth checking out sometime:

Future Factories

Freedom of Creation

Electro Optical Systems

Bathsheba Sculpture LLC

Assa Ashuach Studio


Front Design

3d art to part


Generator.x is a conference and exhibition looking at software and generative strategies in art and design

BumpyPhoto will take a single high-resolution picture and create a 3D sculpture from it. The small ones cost under $100.


The Maker Movement: Art in 3D Printing