Sound Extrusions: Interview – 3D Printing, Prototyping & Muffins with Mick Byrne

I have come across another obstacle in the proposed porcelain speaker design recently — how to actually attach an inductive speaker onto the interior surface of the proposed porcelain shape … Mick Byrne from The Edge came up with a great idea to use a 3D printer at The Edge to do the job. We found out that it probably won’t print the final piece for the installation (it’s quite fragile and wouldn’t hold the weight properly), but it would be great for making a prototype and help with latex mould creation for later resin casting of the part itself!

After the bold introduction to porcelain making in the last blog post, here’s another topic, yet again very much connected with object design and modelling. This technique, completely new to the creative tool box, is based on recreation of digital models through printing, using various materials.

I have caught up with Mick Byrne for a short interview on 3D printing, just to give you a quick glimpse into this new emerging creative hi-tech universe, mixing computer graphics and design into one. Thank you Mick, for also sharing with us a great document covering the sintering experiment by Markus Kayse. Powered by the sun and using sand as printing material in the Sahara desert, it looks like a great adventure!

How far away are we from printing our muffins for breakfast in the morning, Mick?

In fact the technology is already out there, it just wouldn’t make sense to do it money-wise I would say!

Being in Australia right now makes me think about printing even surfboards on demand!

Yeah, you are right, the scale of 3D printers changed quite a lot recently. There are already some building companies using it for computer controlled injection of materials  which is pretty much the same thing as a filament printing process we do use here at The Edge.

It feels somehow, that 3D printing has a bit too much hype  being this new and seductive an element is an almost fetish approach to technology, don’t you think?!

I would say it’s more about narrowing the technology divide and allowing pretty much everybody to try it out. Not just the big companies with research parks behind them. In a way it’s democratizing the creative industry right now (on-line jewellery boutique shops, etc.). It’s a bit similar to what happened in the movie production some years ago.

This brings me to a tricky question, which has arisen quite recently  the publication of a 3D printed gun on the internet. What’s your point of view on that?

It’s not a real issue from my point of view. It was just a single use gun. It still has to be loaded with regular and controlled ammunition anyway …

Anyway, what is the most intriguing object you have come across concerning 3D printing?

It’s actually a sintering machine powered only by solar heat using mirrors and lenses. That is quite cool!

What’s the sintering process anyway? We have been talking about filament printing, which makes use of liquefied plastic cords what’s the difference then?

It’s a very different printing process: consecutively laid layers of powder on top of each other (which could be anything from plastic to titanium!) are heated in a very precise way with a laser to form the object. The beauty in that is that each layer of the actual powder adds a supportive structure to the originating element. In the end you just blow off the dust & away you go!

Is it very different to traditional production methods, such as mould casting or block subtractive manufacturing?

Sure, big time! You are able to build quite complex even interlocking structures, which are not possible to achieve with traditional industrial design approaches.

What are the current trends in 3D printing?

I know about amazing medical applications  basically you would print a shape of an organ, as an ear for example, out of cellulose. Then you “invite” the cells to grow onto it to form the actual organ, great idea!

Let’s finish off the interview with connection to my actual Sound Extrusion project! What are the workflow ideas in this case for me?!

It’s pretty straight forward  first of all you have to clean your model (we use Tinker CAD, but any other 3D or CAD software will do), export it to 3D printer and print the prototype. The next step would be to cover the printed object in a release agent (to prevent it from sticking to the actual mould) and use a two part latex putty to create a casting mould. Then you can use regular resin to produce the object for real life use.

Thank you Mick, for your time and the workflow ideas!

solar sinster video
Markus Kayser – Solar Sinter Project from Markus Kayser on Vimeo

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