Discover 3D printing


Michaella Janse’s ‘Chrysanthemum’ was created using Wings3D, Rhinocerous3D and Netfabb. It functions as a decorative bowl and a tea-light holder

This is a recurrent point amongst those who have experimented with the medium: the equipment might be dropping in price, but it still isn’t a cheap process. South African sculptor Michaella Janse designs her pieces to be as small as possible to minimise costs, but there’s no room for error: “One small mistake in the mechanics could mean that the entire design doesn’t work as intended,” she warns.

It was during Janse’s postdoctoral fellowship in custom implant design in Bloemfontein in 2007 that she fell in love with 3D printing. The following year she set up a company exclusively dedicated to design for the medium: NOMILI. While the technology has developed, it’s the breadth of applications that she finds most exciting. “When I started, it was large brick-and-mortar 3D companies and universities that were manufacturing custom engineered parts and prototypes for product development,” she says. “The technology has become accessible to a wider audience, from hobbyists and artists to school children.” This is partly driven by the increasingly affordable hardware and software, she argues, but also by start-up companies like Shapeways and Ponoko, which provide manufacturing services to individuals.

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