Creativity and 3D Printing (or the rationale behind ANAT’s 3D printing program)

ANAT (the Australian Network for Art and Technology) has been supporting artists engaging with science and technology for over 23 years.  During this time, we have developed skills transfer workshops and labs around emerging technologies that we believe are of interest for the artists we support.Recently, we have become increasingly fascinated by the creative opportunities offered up by the emerging technologies driving the ‘personal fabrication’ movement.  These technologies include computer-aided design (CAD), 3D printing (also known as ‘additive manufacturing’ or ‘rapid prototyping’), laser cutting, CNC and printed circuit board milling.  We have decided to invest in the technology ourselves by buying a Makerbot ‘Thing-O-Matic’ desktop 3D printer for our office.  By gaining hands on experience of using the printer, we hope to develop an understanding of the capabilities (and limitations) of these technologies for creative use, to build our own competencies, and, eventually, to share its use with the creative community.

Our interest in personal fabrication is partly driven by the potentially transformative effects that these technologies could have on traditional manufacturing industries.  We also admire the spirit of the personal fabrication movement – how online collaboration and free sharing of information, designs and software is driving the development of these technologies; how ‘Fab Labs’ (fabrication laboratories) are springing up around the world with the big idea of harnessing “the inventive power of the world to locally design and produce solutions to local problems (1).”  But perhaps most of all, our interest is driven by the opportunities the movement offers to empower creative people to “make almost anything”(2).

Check out some of the ways artists are using these technologies on our ‘Artistic Projects using Personal Fabrication’ page.  We are sure there are many more creative projects using these technologies out there.   We intend to build a database of these; both for reference and for inspiration.  We’d love to hear from you if you know of any that should be included.

We will document our experiences with the printer in this blog, and we invite any creative people using these technologies to share your experiences too.



[1] Gershenfeld, Neil A. (2005). Fab: the coming revolution on your desktop—from personal computers to personal fabrication. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-02745-8.

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