Thursday, February 22, 2007

3-D printing and carving

I have recently come across a tool that seems like it would be an asset in theatre, particularly perhaps in props. It is the Carvewright woodworking system- essentially a c and c router/carving tool that is able to move in 3 dimensions (the x, y, and z axis).

It can carve on wood, plastic and foam. maximum material size is can be 14.5" wide, 5" tall and 12' long, and the maximum depth of cut is 1". A very deep object would thus have to be carved out of multiple layers and the assembled after the carving was finished. It can carve from raster or vector images, making it a versatile tool and it comes with its own software for programming. It can be used for simple edge routs, simply cutting a board in two, or complex carving. It can print in several modes, similar to a printer, draft, regular or best. The time is a bit of a concern though as it can take multiple hours to carve a piece depending on the complexity of the piece and the printing mode. Cost of course is also an issue since it is rather expensive, especially considering that this would be a specialty tool in any shop.

Several other nice features is that you can change out bits, you can carve on both sides of a piece of material, and you can actually cut all the way through the material. You can even use photographs to carve from.

For a well equipped shop that does alot of custom props where quality is very important this tool could prove to be an asset. I think that if it proves to be reliable, and competitors come onto the scene this may be a common shop tool in a few decades. As it is now, it reminds be of the cut awl - a great tool, but so expensive that many shops don't use it, and currently endangered by the rotozip.

On the issue of 3-D carving, I am also including a link to a brief article on 3-d printers.
many of these machines have came about for creating prototypes, and are costly. However, the prices are coming down in price, and many places will print single items fairly economically. These two I think are worthy of increased research. There are several different methods for shape creation, and options for either complete replicas of for individual parts which can then be assemble. Either of these alternatives could be very useful for props creation, especially for custom designs or hard to find antiques. The size of the object is once again limited, but could be circumvented by designing the object to be assembled after being printed.

Either way, it wouldn't surprise me to see these being utilized in theatrical shops of the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment