Computer Graphics World

September/October 2014

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s e p t e m b e r . o c t o b e r 2 0 1 4 c g w 4 5 E D U C A T I O N . 3 D P R I N T I N G the company provides. He sent a team member from his company to LCAD to advise the students on design techniques. Aer the contest, Solid Con- cepts was sent STL files of the winning masks and determined which technology was best suit- ed to produce which mask. One of the technologies Solid Concepts has at its disposal is plastic laser sintering, provided by an EOSINT P 700 series sys- tem from EOS. "Laser sintering is always good for complex geom- etries," McGowan explains. "We oen steer architectural models and anything artistic toward it." The laser-sintering process begins with a thin layer of powdered plastic (or metal, depending on the type of system) on a build platform. An STL or 3D CAD file of the model to be manufactured is uploaded to the system. A focused laser then traces the outlines and contours a cross-sectional slice taken from the 3D digital model, melting the layer of powder at high heat. Fresh powder is then reapplied, and the next layer of the model is traced by the laser, fusing it to the first and slowly creating a solid replica of the digital data with each new pass. Because laser sintering is an additive rather than subtractive process, the technology "grows" parts one 60-micron layer – about half the thickness of a human hair – at a time. The accuracy of this process is already well recognized in in- dustries such as aerospace and medical device manufacturing, where it is used to produce everything from turbine test blades to customized brain surgery fixtures. Laser sintering can also create complex geom- etries, even objects that could not be made with any other manufacturing process. The contest winner whose mask was produced with laser sintering is Fain. Her intricate mask design was based on the legend of Quetzalcoatl, the Mayan god whose name in the Nahuatl language means "feath- ered serpent." "My idea was that Xolotl, Quetzalcoatl's twin, gave his brother a cursed mask out of jealously because Quetzalcoatl was highly loved by the Mayan people," Fain explains. "In the end, the mask corrupts Quetzal- coatl and turns him against his people." Fain's mask, complete with intricately detailed feathers and a prominent headpiece, is characterized by deeply etched, raised texturing. Due to the com- plexity of the mask, the Solid Concepts team determined that the EOSINT P 700 series system would be the best technology to use to grow Fain's design. T H E W O M A N B E H I N D T H E M A S K A precocious young woman, Fain has always had a deep appreciation for virtual art, as well as a knack for creating it. As early as age 11, she was using Adobe ImageReady and Flash, and began producing art for a social and role-playing community game at age 14. Much of Fain's inspiration stems from the animated Disney films she grew up watching and video games she grew up playing. "Being home-schooled, I had a lot more free time because I didn't have to worry about take-home assignments. This allowed more time for gaming," Fain explains. "My favorites were the ones that were fantasy- based. I love storytelling, and being able to drive the narrative forward with interactive play is something unique that you can't find watching movies or reading books." This led the student to the Game Art program at LCAD, where she ultimately ended up focusing her studies on 3D design. "There's just something about seeing your designs come to life in 3D," Fain says. The "life" that Fain is referring to, however, was still restricted to the computer screen. Her Mayan mask project was the first time she had experienced the capa- bilities of additive manufacturing and designing for 3D printing. "I really never knew how it worked and am still amazed that Solid Concepts could ac- tually 3D-print something I had made. The whole medium is beautiful," says Fain. "There's a huge difference between seeing something on a screen and then seeing it in person and being able to physically touch it. Now I'm able to hold it and examine it from every angle." M E E T I N G T H E M A S K S While many LCAD students are entering the Game Art program with an increasing amount of ex- perience in 3D design, 3D printing was a concept foreign to most of them. Designing specifically for additive manufacturing was something none of the contest participants had done before. "I was in the gallery the day the contest winners all saw their masks for the first time," Rich recalls. "It was like watching kids open up Christmas presents." Running from pedestal to pedestal, the students analyzed what details came through compared to their digital designs. One of the biggest im- pacts was how real light played off the physical surface of the models. This is an aspect that is particularly hard to test when working solely on a computer. "You're looking at a flat repre- sentation under fake lighting," Rich explains. "So having an actual figure in front of you with ambient light on it can really change your perspective." Appleoff believes the growing gaming industry will increasingly adopt 3D printing, specifi- cally for avatars and replicas of the creations featured in popular video games. "With the development of new video games come new characters. These characters attract fans, who then demand 3D models of their favorites. This creates a viable commercial market for 3D printing," she explains. Being able to expose stu- dents to new mediums and skill sets was one of the main reasons Appleoff set out to establish the Game Art program at LCAD. Having personally experienced the digital shi in the art industry, she is excited to be able to introduce her students to new tools. "We are in the midst of a visual, virtual renaissance, and at the heart of it is games," she says. The 3D-printed models are A CLOSE-UP OF THE 3D-PRINTED MAYAN MASK ON DISPLAY IN THE STUDENT GALLERY AT LAGUNA COLLEGE.

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