3Dprintshow London 2013 – an epic show

3dprintshow hall Business design centre London

3dprintshow hall Business design centre London

The 2013 3Dprintshow in London had been built up to be an epic show….. what can I say it did not disappoint! I am exhibition ‘virgin’  having never been to one of these shows before. To be honest these type of things had never grabbed my attention. However, this was different, 3Dprinting has hooked my imagination both in and out of the classroom so I had to pay it a visit. After walking into the exhibition hall I felt a ‘buzz’ of excitement, a feeling of the ‘unknown’. What was I going to witness today? Well I can only describe it as ‘mind blowing’ and that is thanks to one of many highlights of the show…. the 3Dprinted fashion show. This was truly a gamechanger and left me speechless, along with many other people in the venue that witnessed this groundbreaking event. I will discuss this in a later blog, as it deserves its own platform.

First of all lets look at the main event hall with the exhibitors showcasing their businesses. Pretty much anyone and everyone in 3Dprinting was there showcasing advances in printers, materials and new innovations. One highlight was the colourfabb stand showcasing 3dprinting filament made from wood. I could not believe my eyes, 3dprinted wood objects that you can even sand down! In terms of pushing creativity, this is massive and an untapped area of design. Things that could only be created in plastic can now be redefined and printed from a wood filament. Innovation, is the only word to describe this, who knows where this can lead. One thing it did was leave my students speechless when I informed them about it in class.

wood filament

The next stop was the 3dprinted hospital. Again this was fantastic. The area of healthcare and medicine is one that 3dprinting can really define. Could there be a day when antibiotics and cancer treatment pills are 3dprinted to your specific personal illnesses? Could this lead to reduced side effects and the speeding up of  your recovery time? Who knows but the conversations are taking place and I hope this does happen. One design that grabbed me (or grabbed my arm) was the 3dprinted arm cast. I remember breaking my arm as a kid and having to wear this heavy cast made from plaster whilst my broken bone repaired itself. Getting the knitting needle to itch was a pain, also wearing an ‘asda’ bag in the shower so it wouldn’t get wet for 6 weeks sent me crazy. This idea could revolutionise the recovery of broken limbs. No more heavy painful casts, you could wear this in the shower and itch away to your hearts content. Also when you take the cast of your not met with a smelly arm that has not had chance to breath for six weeks. Fingers crossed this may happen. Could we see each ER or Accident and Emergency department employ an inhouse 3dprinting engineer to create models to repair broken limbs?

3dprinted hospital

Next stop was looking at personal home 3dprinters. The media is going crazy with stories that we will all have one of these in our homes soon. In my case they are right. As I type this my trusty solidoodle is printing christmas ornaments for friends and family as stocking fillers. But would the average computer user have a 3dprinter in their home in the future? Current sales of personal printers indicate yes they will, however there is an issue with the general appearance of these machines. My printer is great, but lets just say it is not that aesthetically pleasing to the eye. This is set to change thought when I found this printer…….

bee the firstiphone 5sMakerBot_Replicator2

Lets look at the styling of this printer….. is there Apple design king Jonathen Ive hiding in there somewhere? Those corner raduis’s look familiar! Could I see this next to an Apple Mac? Yes I could. This is one of only a few personal 3dprinters that has styling as the main feature. It seems makerbot and beethefirst are the only companies that have made a concerted effort to make theses replicating machines sexy! If they are going to sell big time, then they need to look like they can live in your home without being en eyesore. Beethefirst and the makerbot ticks all the boxes on the styling front.

iron man IMG_4423i robotirobot

Next attention grabber was iron man! This exhibition demonstrated the power of 3dprinting and how it is influencing Hollywood. Without this technology you have to question whether this suit could have been made. Would it have been possible to design and make this using traditional tooling methods? Theoretically yes, but practicality and cost wise, no. Next to grab my attention was the creepy looking robot that bared a similar resemblance to a certain Will Smith block buster. However, this one alarmed me. This robot mimicked my movements, what ever I did with my hands it did the same, then it decided to grab a ball from my hand after a voice command from the operator. Hmmmm, do we really need voice operated robots to act on our every command? I remember the ‘irobot’ film and how that experiment went wrong. If you have not seen the movie, watch it and you will know what I am talking about. Maybe this will need a ‘safe word’ that when someone speaks the word the robot ‘freezes’ and stops what every it is doing. It can’t be hard for someone to hack this programme that controls the robot?

art gallery

The final instalment of the day was the 3dprinted art gallery. This was something special. First of all when you enter the hall you are met with Obama’s state of the union speech where he describes the power of 3dprinting and how 3dprinting manufacturing hubs are being set up in the USA to nurture this industry further. If you have not heard it, then click the link below;


In true 3dprinting style his voice patterns were actually 3dprinted into a sculpture to create an interactive exhibit. Click the link to view.


This was not some ordinary art gallery, lets just say that to start! The examples of work in this room almost defied the norm. I have been to many an art gallery around the world, but nothing had prepared me for what was on display in this room. The highlight for me was getting the chance to see Joshua Hawkers Crania Anatomica Filigre. I first saw this on kickstarter when he did his campaign. To see it in real life was fantastic. It was the hidden gem of the show. I truly believe that 3dprinting has the chance to shake the art world into a new dimension. Who needs a canvas and a paint pallet…. all you need is a laptop and some CAD knowledge.

 Picture41 Picture42 Picture40 Picture39 Picture47 Picture46 Picture45 Picture44 Picture43

Ok, I have only touched the surface on this one so I am keeping it short and sweet, next instalment to follow soon.

Philip Cotton

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