Aug 18, 2015 | By Simon

Although we’ve seen just how powerful additive manufacturing can be when it comes to disrupting traditional manufacturing techniques, the use of 3D printers for creating various art-related projects are no less captivating as well.  

Between using finished 3D printed objects themselves in various works of art to taking advantage of the natural movements of the 3D printer - the G Code - for creating patterns, the possibilities are seemingly limitless.  More recently, Italian artist Gianluca Pugliese (aka ‘Owen’) used a 3D printer for light painting.

Light painting, which is actually a form of photography rather than painting, is when a camera’s exposure time is set for a prolonged amount of time in a dark environment while a light moves within the frame.  The resulting movement of the light is captured as a single stroke - similar to those made from a paint brush - hence the name, light painting.  

Pugliese, who has been actively using light painting in his works for years, is also a Maker and has been exploring ways of combining his love for both photography with the technologies he uses for making projects real - such as 3D printers.  The result of his exploration is what he calls “CNC Light Painting”.    

However, the journey to get there wasn’t without its challenges.  

“Until that moment, almost all 3d printers were Cartesian printers,” explains Pugliese.  

“The results I got were pretty good but not satisfactory enough for my liking. Then, the Delta printers came along and I finally realized they were all I needed to get what I wanted.“

After finding an open source Delta 3D printer design online, Pugliese downloaded the source files and built his own - a moment that he considers a turning point.  The resulting images that he was able to capture from the Delta’s movements were so impressive that he was able to take part in the “Biennale” in Venice in 2014 with his project.  

It was in Venice during the Biennale when Pugliese met Sebatiano and Marcello from WASP, the Italian 3D printer manufacturer who are known for their own Delta 3D printer.  After showing them his project, the two were impressed so much that they decided to collaborate on a 3D printing project and WASP even gave Pugliese one of their Turbo models.

Soon after, Pugliese and WASP developed a special extruder that was specific to light painting and did not require any power supplies or specific settings, the LightExtruder.     

Designed to be used on every Delta WASP model, the special extruder features an RGB LED and a selector to choose the light color.  Although it can be attached to any of the Delta WASP models however, it is recommended that users use it with the Turbo model due to the ability to produce a faster light movement and reduce the need for a longer exposure time.  

“All you have to do is put the camera on a tripod just in front of the printer, turn the light off, then you run the printer and you take the picture with the BULB mode,” explains Pugliese.  

“The printer starts moving as it was printing something (at a higher speed though) and you can see the LED moving around.”

Similar to what happens in other light painting methods - such as waving a flashlight around in a cube shape or writing your name - the camera captures all of these movements and the resulting strokes are presented as one singular object.  

“I’ve recently took several pictures of the same subject, making it turn of 15 degrees in every file,” adds Pugliese.  

“I assembled the pictures in sequence and what I ended up with was a video of this object, made of light, that turns on itself.”

Needless to say, this unique application of combining photography tricks with 3D printing is exactly what makes additive manufacturing such an exciting technology to follow these days - there’s seemingly no limit to what people can come up with next.  


Posted in 3D Printing Accessories



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