On Wednesday 5 October I went up to Metropolitan Works, part of London Metropolitan University, for an introductory session on 3D printing, CNC (computer numerically controlled) routing, 3D scanning, water jet cutting, laser cutting and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS). I also had a brief introduction to Rhino 3D software. http://www.rhino3d.com/
I’m looking at these processes partly to find alternative ways to cut my core samples from the Encyclopaedia Britannicas in case I’m unable to use a geological core sampling machine. The CNC routing initially looked promising but there are issues around how to bind the books into a solid block that won’t shift during the routing process, as well as the issue of the dust obscuring the operator’s view. If the router has to be repeatedly stopped and restarted this could generate a new set of problems including health and safety issues. Alternatively, if all else fails, I may have to use a good old-fashioned bandsaw and a template or former to cut the books one at a time.
The ideal means of production of the book core samples remains a geological core sampling machine. The books would need to be encased in strong shuttering or buried in the ground. They may still need to be glued together into a block to minimize movement. I could use a water-soluble conservation glue (maybe a starch paste) so that the books and pages could be teased apart once they’ve been cut to the core sample shape.
The process that really caught my attention at Metropolitan Works was 3D printing. It produces wonderfully fragile, bone-coloured forms of great intricacy. I believe it would be possible to translate sections of my word:mass RaAM8 poster that I created using the vector software Illustrator, into 3D objects, that look (at a distance) like rock fragments, and close-up are seen to be constructed from physically and etymologically connected words http://artblog.susanryland.co.uk/category/wordmass/. With light shone through these fragments they would cast shadows of letters and maybe even words. The light and temperature controlled museum cases in the Peter Scott Gallery at Lancaster University would be ideal to show these pieces. First, I think I will construct some test pieces in foam board, then convert them into 3D computer images using Rhino, ready for 3D printing. So a crash-course in Rhino is called for! http://www.metropolitanworks.org/events/event_listings/refine/course/all/