The Landscape of Lighting: Part 5/6

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

By Amanda Koellner
Images courtesy of Toby Andrew and Hilden & Diaz 

The Landscape of Lighting: Emerging Technologies & 3D Printing 

3D printing has designers and journalists alike asking if the technology—the process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model—is ushering in a third industrial revolution. London-based lighting designer George Singer would argue that it just might be. “More and more companies are buying 3D printers, and they’re being used in different ways,” he says. “I think it’s important to progress with technology, and 3D printing is a very important part of that. I think it’s important that we, as designers, immerse ourselves in it and jump at it with both feet.” Singer used 3D printing for the first time on his “Big Sexy Diamond,” a light installation that looks exactly how it sounds. Made with more than 5,000 high-quality LEDs, the fixture features intelligent joints all custom-made by iMakr, a global leader in 3D-printing technology. “3D printing was the best way to create all of the 82 different joints to attach to the ‘ribs’ of the diamond,” Singer says. “The accuracy has to be very high, and iMakr gave me the opportunity to turn around all my components in a month from my 3D files.”

Thyra Hilden and Pio Diaz of the Denmark-based art studio Hilden & Diaz ran into a similar issue when creating their “Forms in Nature” light sculpture, inspired by “nesting” the human element back into nature. “At first, the work was intended for graphite moulding through the German manufacturer that makes disk brakes for Porche,” Diaz says. “But the undertaking was colossal. The project was then handed to a small team of computer geeks.” Despite the seemingly perfect marriage between 3D printing and “Forms in Nature,” the duo has its doubts about the emerging technology, pointing to high costs and lack of access to machinery as key problems. Even so, they can’t help but enjoy the process. “3D printing gives a freedom from and alternative to moulding,” Hilden says. “The 3D printing set a space for us as artists to be totally unaware of design rules, and that’s fun for us.”

Read Part 6: Light in Public Art

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