Regardless of its focus, a museum offers more to society than a place where people can gaze at carefully prepared displays. Museums are really centers for education and research, and the displays are as much a side effect of learning as they are the main point. Even if you are just a visitor, a good trip to a museum should leave you enlightened, it should teach you something about the world around you.
As additive manufacturing (AM) enters the mainstream of public consciousness, much work remains in educating the public on how the technology works and what it is capable of producing. Museums are natural partners for this kind of education. The Science Museum in London, England and the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York City have set up exhibits featuring 3D printing.
The London Science Museum will open its 3D: Printing the Future exhibition on October 9. The exhibit will examine the process of AM, including 3D scanning and the manufacturing process. Examples of 3D printed statuettes will be on hand, along with Neri Oxman’s Pneuma 2. In all, the exhibit will display 700 3D printed objects in a range of materials including nylon, titanium, and sandstone.
“It is gratifying to see 3D printing featured so prominently by one of the world’s great science museums. Every day we are discovering exciting new applications for 3D printing, touching virtually every discipline and industry, from art and fashion to medicine, architecture and manufacturing,” concluded Arita Mattsoff, vice president of marketing for Stratasys. “We hope that many visitors will take advantage of this opportunity to experience this amazing technology, which is not yet leveraged to its full potential.”
MAD’s exhibit, Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital will open on October 16 and includes works from 80 international artists, architects, and designers, featuring the work of Ron Arad, Barry X Ball, Zaha Hadid, Stephen Jones, Anish Kapoor, Allan McCollum, Marc Newson, and Roxy Paine. Visitors to the exhibit will also have the chance to be 3D scanned for their very own AM-built statuette, which will be available for purchase from Shapeways.
Running alongside the exhibit are a series of workshops to teach visitors the basics of AM. These include “Everything You Wanted to Know About 3D Printing but Didn’t Know Who to Ask,” an “Intro to 3D Printing, Software, Materials, and Processes,” and “Intro to 3D Design for 3D Printing.” Shapeways artists will also be on hand to demonstrate how 3D design programs are used and answer questions.
Below you’ll find a short video walkthrough of the London Science Museum.