3D Printing and Art Research

I’m currently working on a capstone project titled ‘Fusing Art and 3D Printing: Creating a Meaningful Learning Experience in Art’. Students in my design class will explore creative ways to integrate a 3D printer with traditional art materials to create art.

Having access to 2 three-dimensional (3D) printers in my classroom, I want to find creative ways to integrate them with traditional ways of making art. To do this, I will allow my students to explore and experiment with the printer(s) along with traditional art materials to create mixed media art. I want to use the printers a little different other than bringing 2-D drawings to life in a printed model, I want to look at the 3-D printer more as an artistic medium. I plan to use the action research method to examine students as they work independently thinking of innovative ways a rapid prototyping machine can be integrated with traditional art materials. This study will also explore students’ experiences and engagements as they investigate the two different materials.

So basically, the purpose of this study is to bring together the traditional methods of creating art with new digital media in a hands-on environment. My research questions for my study are:

  1. What are innovative ways a rapid prototyping machine can be used to create art?
  2. What factors influenced students as they worked with traditional art materials and a 3-D printer as they create art?
  3. What kinds of artwork students create from utilizing both the 3-D printer and traditional art media?

Once the study is complete, I will give my students the following reflection questions to answer in their sketch journal:

  1. What factors influenced you while working on your 3-D printer artwork?
  2. What problems did you face while working on your3-D printer artwork?
  3. What choices in techniques and materials did you consider and make while creating your artwork?
  4. Other than the 3-D printer, what traditional art materials did you use?
  5. Please describe your final 3-D printer artwork.
  6. If you were to begin this project again, what changes would you make in creating your artwork?
  7. How did this project expand and enhance your thinking about creating art?
  8. What tips or advice would you offer to others who are experimenting with a 3D printer for the first time.

The product of my study will result in a guide that will share my classroom explorations, all artwork created, the process of creating the artwork, and helpful tips and suggestions for working with both new technologies and traditional art materials. This guide will be of interest to high school and college art educators who are interested in integrating a 3D printer into their classroom for making art, and or art educators who shares the same interests of exploring new technologies in the art classroom.