Mar 13, 2016 | By Benedict

David Kent Watson, a grad student at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, has used 3D printing to create aluminum and bronze casts of his nose. The metal noses have been made into finger-wearable “nose rings”.

In a 3D printing project somewhat reminiscent of Nikolai Gogol’s short story “The Nose”, art student David Kent Watson’s olfactory organ has wandered from its face of residence into pastures new; namely, aluminum and bronze rings. Fortunately, the young artist has avoided the tribulations of Gogolian protagonist Major Kovalyov by keeping his real nose in place and casting the two “nose rings” with 3D printed molds. Although Watson does not appear to have drawn inspiration from Gogol—”I think I was compelled by the pun of the nose ring”, he admitted—his art certainly asks the kind of important questions once posed by the great Russian dramatist.

The process by which Watson created his two “nose rings” was far from a simple one. First, the artist used a 3D Systems Sense scanner—#2 on our list of the Best 3D Scanners of 2015, in case you were wondering—to obtain a 3D scan of his face. The creator then manipulated the 3D model in Rhino to remove all of his face bar the nose, which he then 3D printed. From then on, the creative Watson took two simultaneous yet divergent paths to produce two different yet equally impressive pieces of jewelry.

Wishing to experiment with two different techniques, Watson used his 3D printed nose in two different casting processes, the second of which would burn the 3D print into oblivion. The first method, however, required the expertise of Frankie Flood, an Associate Professor at UWM and jewelry specialist, who helped Watson to sand cast an aluminum replica of the nose. The 3D printed conk was pushed into a special kind of sand, leaving a firm imprint of the nose—who hasn’t done the same on a lazy day at the beach? Molten aluminum was then poured into the nose-shaped crevice, with the metal becoming solid after cooling. The following day, Flood showed Watson how to turn the ring using a lathe, and the first “nose ring” was complete.

The other “nose ring” was made with the assistance of Michael Dale Barnard, a Los Angeles, California-based artist with experience in vacuum casting. For this process, metal sprues were created for the 3D printed schnozzle, which was subjected to investment casting. The investment cast of the nose was cooked overnight, bidding farewell to the original 3D printed plastic nose, after which molten bronze was poured into the new metal cast. A vacuum was used to suck the thick molten metal downwards into the cast, ensuring that it reached every corner.

"My nose piece is silly and that is its main thing but, at the same time, I think the piece contributes to the makers movement which is fueled by this idea that the means of production is shifting," the artist told Mashable in an email interview. "In the course of a day, I can scan an object, 3D print it, make a mold and cast it. Tools, education, technologies, like the 3D printer, are becoming more accessible. All of that is really exciting.”

Both “nose rings” are impressive works of 3D printed art, but Watson notes the superior detail shown on the bronze ring compared to the smoother, less defined surface of the aluminum model. The artist has also used 3D printing to turn himself into a miniature plastic and metal army man.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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