3D printing is taking the world by storm. Now-a-days everything seems to be 3D printed, but it’s usually for a reason and not for the heck of it. Artist, David Watson created a 3D printed nose ring which features a metal cast of his actual nose.
Watson, a graduate student studying digital fabrication, art and technology at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee wanted to experiment with 3D printing and indeed that’s what he did. He scanned and 3D printed a mode of his own nose, casted the piece in bronze and aluminum and then made it into a ring you could wear on your finger.
Even though Watson thought this entire project was pretty funny, he also focused on the academic perspective as well. “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” Watson says.
The creation of the Nose Ring was quite a process. First Watson used a sense scanner to scan his face. He cropped his entire face but his nose with Rhino and then 3D printed that. He ended up casting the nose using two different methods. With he help of Frankie Flood, an Associate Professor at UWM and jewelry specialist he sand casted the nose. The process involved pushing the printed nose into a special kind of sand which leaves a firm imprint of the object. Then melted aluminum was poured into the cast. The second method was created with the help of Michael Dale Barnard, a Los Angeles, California artist who is experienced in vacuum casting. This process begins with taking the 3D printed nose and creating Sprues (passageways for the molten metal) then investment casting that object. Once the investment cast is made, it is cooked overnight. This burns the plastic leaving just the shell of the object. Next the bronze was melted and poured into the cast. The cast then rests on a vacuum which sucks the molten metal downward. Vacuum casting transfers detail better than sand casting.
“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.”