• Interesting artifacts and textures sometimes emerge as a byproduct of the 3D printing process. The cover letters for LEO were the result of a "happy accident." A print of some standard extruded lettering was stopped halfway through, and the letterforms that emerged were more unique than what we had originally designed. People often ask us what typeface it is and we love describing how it was formed from a print that's halfway done.
• By printing a hollow piece and then pausing the printer halfway through, you can take advantage of "throw-ins" to give an object special properties. For example, magnets or metal parts can be thrown in to make your pieces stick together. In LEO, we used rice as a throw-in to make a shaker instrument.
• The 3D modeling software Rhino has a plugin for Python scripting that allows people to use code to generate forms based on algorithms. For example, the jewelry that the character Stephanie creates is based on mathematical spirals.
• It's fun to experiment with different polishes to change the surface of 3D-printed parts. Acetone (the same thing that's in nail polish remover) can be brushed on the surface of an ABS or PLA print to make it smooth and shiny.
• When 3D-printing food, it's important to design for two-and-a-half dimensions: This means a 3D object where higher layers do not hang above lower layers in the 3D print. This helps you avoid sagging.
About the Author
Carla Diana is a designer, author and artist who enjoys living as close to the near future as possible. In her studio she works on future-specting projects that bring robotics and sensor technologies to everyday life, creating smart objects that can charm and surprise. She has taught at several universities, including the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she was creative director for the iconic humanoid robot, Simon. Carla is also a Fellow at the innovation design firm Smart Design where she oversees the Smart Interaction Lab. She writes and lectures extensively on the subject of creative technology, and her January 2013 New York Times Sunday Review article, “Talking, Walking Objects”, is a good representation of her view of our robotic future.