Nov 10, 2015 | By Alec

We here at love 3D printed toys, because it shows how fun and playful the technology is, but we are also a staunch defender of 3D printed art. As some designs are so packed with craftsmanship, expertise and vision, can you call it anything but art? But in an interview with German designer Oliver Griem, we are reminded that 3D printed toys can also be artistic – something he proved in an intriguing museum exhibition at the Savina Museum in Seoul, South Korea, last year. Called ‘simple rules for the complex world’, this installation was absolutely packed with unusual 3D printed Lego men that recreate some of the themes common in today’s world.

As you can see in the photos and in the clip below, these 3D printed Lego-like characters focus on themes you don’t often see in the Lego box sets themselves. There, the harshest themes are pirates or the Stormtroopers, but Griem takes things closer to reality. War, industry, revolution, religion, and all the areas where those themes overlap can be found in this remarkable installation. This mesmerizing installation was part of the exhibition ‘3D print & art’ in the Savina Museum in Seoul, and wowed visitors during the spring of 2014.

But just as remarkable as the contents, is the development process that preceded it. Griem himself is a German designer who has been calling South Korea home for a few years now. ‘I studied fine art & media design in Germany and since then I create video-works and room installations which use various media. I teach moving image to students at Hongik University in Seoul,’ he tells us.

And for this particular installation, Griem found inspiration in the same websites us regular hobbyists frequent: Thingiverse, Shapeways, and so on, where most visitors look at cool toys and figurines to 3D print. ‘When starting to think about ideas for this exhibition, I researched about what people are using their 3D printer for by browsing the uploaded files on sites like Thingiverse or Shapeways. I wanted to find out more about how useful home 3D printing technology is to mankind,’ he explains.

Of course not many of the designs you find there can truly be called artistic or aesthetically beautiful, but they do share a purpose. If you have small children or your friends do, a fun little present is easily 3D printed. As Griem explained, he decided to combine those most popular elements with the truly functional 3D printed designs – the useful stuff you point to when defending your desktop 3D printer from the skeptics. ‘Things that connect to industrial standard products and extend them somehow; tablet holder, smartphone stand, bottle screw cap, toothbrush holder, camera lens hood, case for some electronic component etc.,’ he explains. Combined, they send a message that 3D printing is not just fun, but also useful for mankind.

Selecting a few Thingiverse designs – a Lego block, a plain Lego figure, a GoPro adapter and a cogwheel – he set out to modify and combine designs to produce a microcosm of the complex human world that surrounds us, complete with all those nasty themes we’d rather not think about. He used cinema4D for most of his designs, such as the unique Lego-like characters and the many, many connectors used. Griem estimates that at least 400 different parts were 3D printed for the installation, with the small ones 3D printed in ABS and the bigger ones in PLA. All 3D printing was done on an Up! Plus 3D printer.

As you can imagine, 3D printing at such a large scale is very time consuming and can be very frustrating at times. ‘It took me around 4 month to print all the parts, the printer was working 24h almost every day. The electricity bill got high too, because electricity for private households in Korea gets more expensive if you pass over a certain limit,’ he adds. But he pushed on through, and set up an intriguing computer-run light show that runs sequences of about five minutes on a permanent loop, highlighting all the different elements. ‘For controlling the LEDs and motors, I used a few arduino boards and simple custom control electronics. For the light bulbs I used 4 4channel DMX dimmers,’ he explains.

However, the final results are truly mesmerizing and can be seen in the clip below.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Kalani Hausman wrote at 3/17/2016 2:09:15 AM:

I love your photos. I am one of the co-authors of 3D Printing for Dummies, now we both are working on a Textbook for 3DPrinting. I would love photos and details of your current printers if possible to use in this.

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