Design Exchange kicks off first ever large-scale 3D printing exhibition


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With its latest exhibit, 3DXL the Design Exchange is staying in step with the zeitgeist, serving to introduce locals to all things 3D.

Image: Design Exchange

In the last little while, 3D printing has occupied our collective conscious more than ever before. Björk has gamely worn 3D-printed dresses by designer Iris van Herpen; we’ve all heard of the (flawed) 3D-printed gun; and now, after completing a printing course, the anyone can set foot in the Toronto Reference Library to print out a 3D design of their own making. However, the practice still seems a touch distant for the average Torontonian. With its latest exhibit, 3DXL – A Large-Scale 3D Printing Exhibition, the Design Exchange is staying in step with the zeitgeist, serving to introduce locals to all things 3D.

At a media preview, DX President Shauna Levy noted that the goal of the exhibit is to examine how 3D printing will impact our lives on a day-to-day basis. While 3D printing seems like a modern-day phenomenon, the practice actually got its start back in 1981, when Hideo Kodama of Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute first printed a model out of photopolymers. While the infant days of 3D printing were flawed (think: warping), the practice has matured greatly and now lets objects be printed out of everything from recycled plastic and sand to edibles such as coffee grinds and chocolate. 

For the though-provoking exhibit, curator Sara Nickelson has gathered an impressive array of contributing designers to showcase just how versatile the printing practice can be. Up front, MakerBots print out tiny models of Toronto landmarks such as the CN Tower and City Hall. Elsewhere, an ABB robotic arm pivots on six axes — as opposed to the usual two — allowing it to print in swooping curves that slowly but surely are building chairs. Once the robot completes its work on May 24, the chairs will be assembled into an installation. 

Other standout pieces include Saltygloo by Emerging Objects, a solid structure printed entirely out of salt harvested in the San Francisco area (where the outfit hails from). The exhibit also houses a segment of the 3D Print Canal House — a four-storey house that’s currently being built in Amsterdam entirely out of printed bio-plastics using the same technology as MakerBots.  

 
Swiss artist Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger's 3D printed Arabesque Wall

 

But the most exciting of the batch has to be the so-called Arabesque Wall by Swiss architect-programmers Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger. The piece has been created entirely through 3D-printed sand, resulting in a structure that is reminiscent of sandstone in both texture and strength. It’s also the very first architecture installation designed in the resolution of micrometers, requiring custom software for the feat. 

The exhibit opens today and is located off-site at the Glass Box at 363 King St. W. Entrance is $11 and it runs until August 16. 
 

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Karolyne Ellacott is senior editor at Post City Magazines. She can oft be spotted at Toronto’s most nostalgic diners wearing glittery heels and pink faux fur. Follow all of her eclectic writing interests on Twitter @kellacott and Instagram @itismekar.

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