LED Light Design Contest|About 3D Printing

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The spotlight is on the latest digital tool, the 3D Printer. But, what can it do?

3D printing is the process of making a three-dimensional solid object using a digital model (data) and a 3D printer. These days you can find 3D printers for home use for really reasonable prices, and so the media is starting to pick up on related stories.
Traditionally, most three-dimensional objects were made using metal molds, but this method is time-consuming and costly. It’s also more suitable for mass production. In the case of 3D printers, it’s a lot less expensive compared to using a metal mold and it also allows creators to see their real-life designs in the making as opposed to seeing the digital model on their computer screen. Manufacturers also use 3D printers to test the design and functionality of products before proceeding to the production stage.

Showcasing the whole 3D printer process from sketch to solid!

Every creator longs to see their works be transformed from a design on paper to a three-dimensional solid object. There is no doubt that the 3D printer will open up unlimited possibilities for creative works in the future. Here is a report showing how an idea on a piece of paper is made real with the help of a 3D printer.

Step 1. Creating a Sketch

We asked the designer Kentaro Kato to create sketches of lights he would like to make. He used an iPad app to sketch close to 10 designs.

Step 2. Creating 3D Data

We met with a digital sculptor who creates the 3D model data based on the sketch. He provided counseling and modeling to create the three-dimensional solid object from the sketch. For instance, in the case of the sketch above titled UNI, we talked about how to print the sphere (if we should do it in halves, or break it up into smaller pieces), and how to reproduce the numerous long, thin, hollow areas inside the light, while creating the 3D modeling data. We also decided on which printer best suited the design and what material we should use.

Step 3. 3D Printing

Once the 3D data is ready, then it’s time to create the three-dimensional object using the 3D printer. The completion time depends on the printer being used and the size of the object itself, but some designs can be completed in as little as 3 hours, whereas more complex objects can take more than 2 days to complete. Sometimes, if the design is too complicated, it’s difficult to reproduce, so in those cases you need to go back to Step 2 and tweak the design to ensure that the completed object looks its best.


Step 4. Completion!

And here is the final stage: completion. In the photos below of USAGI you can see that we changed the positioning of the rabbit’s head to upright, upside down, and on its side. The position of the object will determine the quality of the completed works. We need to print reinforcing as well, but these can be easily snipped off and filed down.

>>Entry Process

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