3D Printing Data

red 3D printed triangles that make a pie chart
Photo by Jen Grayburn

Last month I attended The Humanities and Technology Camp also known as THAT Camp for the first time. THAT Camp Philly is an unconference where humanists and technologists of all skill levels learn and build together in sessions proposed on the spot. I attended a very compelling workshop about critical making and the use of 3D Printed Data.

The workshop was given by Jen Grayburn who works at Temple University’s Digital Scholarship Center. During the workshop Jen showed us various examples of how 3D printing can be used to drive, supplement, and visualize research data.

For example, at the University of Virginia, a former professor and student teamed up with the University’s Fralin Museum to work on a digital preservation project where they are 3D scanning and printing Greek vases. There is huge potential here to have people engage with the artifacts physically beyond 2D in an active way. You can read more about the UVA project here.

Collage of 3D scanner and 3D printed Greek Vase
Image (left): http://magazine.arts.virginia.edu/stories/exploring-new-dimensions-with-art-history-and-engineering
Images (right): Jen Grayburn, http://embark2.eservices.virginia.edu/Obj5650?sid=81&x=522&port=427

Also, for a Temple Biology class experiment they 3D printed models of lizards and put them out in the field to see if other creatures would try to bite them and view them as prey.

3D Printed Lizards
Photo by Jen Grayburn

In doing some of my own research I came across an example of a french Artist, Gilles Azzaro who 3D printed a sound wave of a State of the Union Address given by President Obama. You can check out the video of his 3D printed sculpture below.

Many of the examples provided a way for people and students to actively engage with data beyond the theoretical. In a sense it’s critical thinking through physicality. Working on such projects allows students to actively create and experiment in a different way.

If you’re interested in more examples of how to use 3D printing for research and data please check out Jen’s slides from the workshop.

If you have an idea for a project using our 3D printer please contact one our Academic Technologists Doug Willen (dwillen1), or Andrew Ruether (aruethe2).