The duo were recently approached by MakerBot Industries, a Brooklyn-based company and leading light in 3D printing, and asked to serve as re-sellers. The Replicator, one of the company’s models, hummed steadily in a corner of Suchmann’s kitchen while Monath ran through the machine’s details.
“It’s essentially a super-precise glue gun,” explained Monath. “The plastic is on a spool, and it pulls in the plastic strand from the spool, and it pushes it through the head the way a hot glue gun would but it’s very precise and draws a computerized design, extruding it onto a platform, fills it in, then moves up a tenth of a millimeter or so then continues to draw.”
The machine was printing a small portion of one of 3D Printing EDU’s first associated projects, one of more than 4,000 individual “stones” comprising Project Egg, an experimental 3D-printed work by Dutch furniture designer and 3D artist Michiel van der Kley. Suchmann and Monath partnered with BOCES to bring van der Kley to New York, where he presented his project at the Long Island High School for the Arts, the Joseph M. Barry Career and Technical Education Center and Suchmann’s old haunt, Great Neck South Middle School, in late January.
Suchmann and van der Kley met serendipitously, after the former stumbled upon the latter’s website while scouring the web for 3D printing projects, and they bill Project EGG as the first global collaborative 3D printing project of its kind. The Egg, a dome-like structure measuring nine by 12 by 15 feet, will be comprised of “stones” printed by more than 4,000 3D printers worldwide. Each of the 4,760 stones is a unique shape and size, although none is larger than eight inches on any side, and will be connected by specially designed screws. The Egg will make its world debut at the Milan Furniture Fair during the second week of April.
“I’m an artist, but I wanted something specifically, and I just knew about [3D printing] software that could help me,” said van der Kley. “And they claimed you had to be a real mathematician to work with this, and I’m not, but I did it anyway. And for me, it was quite a nice learning curve.”