One of my all-time favorite artists is the hugely talented Neri Oxman. Not only is she a trained architect and an MIT professor, but she is also one of the few recognized artists whose work is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
This remarkable sculpture (above and right), created on the Objet Eden 3D printer, is the result of Oxman's recent work for MIT's technology review. The brief was to produce a sculpture that would illustrate the future of manufacturing. The only requirements were that the sculpture look like a cube and have the words 'Making the Future' on one side. From what I can see, the final result nicely symbolizes Neri's whole mantra when it comes to design and manufacturing and here's why:
Oxman is interested in breaking the ways of conventional design that, until today, have been largely determined by the types of materials we use. For example, building design is still hugely limited by the material properties of glass, concrete and steel. Within the manufacturing industry there are also constraints, largely due to the nature of mass production which is a 'subtractive' process - i.e. it involves taking a solid 'block' of material and shaping it with cutting or milling tools. The design of a modern product is therefore greatly limited by the constraints of cutting tools and the cost of machine-based assembly.
This is one of the major areas where 3D printing is able to make a difference. Unlike conventional manufacturing which shapes a solid object, 3D printing is an 'additive' manufacturing process that starts with nothing and builds up an object layer by layer. Using her Objet 3D printer, Neri Oxman is working on creating new designs that borrow much more from the patterns and processes of nature. The results are often fantastically shaped structures featuring 'impossible geometries' – similar to the cube above.
Read more about this story in the MIT's technology review – 'The Art of 3D Printing'.
Here is another of my favourite Neri Oxman sculptures. This reclining chair also becomes a woman when turned up vertically. Notice the amazing material detail – a unique product of the Objet Connex multi-material 3D printer which can produce up to 14 different material combinations in one seamless print job.
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