Artists continue to demonstrate the unique capabilities of 3D printing in attention grabbing ways. This time, Italy-based Do the Mutation, an artist collective, and CRP Technology, a 3D printing and material manufacturing firm, have utilized the Microsoft Kinect and 3D printing to create some truly inventive and somewhat terrifying masks that are perfect for dressing up as a victim of Venom for Halloween or as the cover of a Tool album for daily wear.
By scanning the project’s participants with the Kinect and a software they developed, the artists of Do the Mutation were able to perfectly capture 3D models of their subjects’ faces. They, then, drew their mask designs.onto the 3D representations. Finally, the artists printed the masks at CRP’s facilities, using the firm’s SLS printers and their patented Windform LX 2.0 material, a “polyamide-based material reinforced with fibre glass” that allows for flexibility and durability.
The results were displayed at Milan Design Week and demonstrated, what Do the Mutation considered, the relationship between the physical and virtual world, describing the masks as “the product of the growth of a virtual organism on the human face” and saying in their press release:
This project explores the border territory between physical and virtual, connecting computer code’s abstractions with the intimate, visceral dimension of body alteration’s sense brought by the mask theme. The topographic anatomy of the face acts as input for a set of algorithms that under designer’s control generate the fibers that form the object, creating a material formation that after 3d printing perfectly fits its territory, people’s faces.
As far as practical applications are concerned, the project also demonstrates the reality of mass-customization, the ability to use 3D printers to create highly personalized objects to large numbers of people.
A new concept of the object is proposed, moving away from close models to be identically reproduced for open processes to be mass customized and led towards the production of unique pieces. The creation of a generative application allows a strong possibility of customization reducing the design effort on each object to a simple user interaction.
Form, structure, colour, size, ergonomics, pattern of the objects can be radically transformed according to personal preferences and features, and produced as unique pieces through 3d printing and CNC fabrication techniques, together with high quality and performing materials as Windform.
While Do the Mutation has shown the capacity of 3D printing to create customized objects in a relatively shocking manner, they have also provided further proof of the role that 3D printing will play for consumers, and producers, that are seeking items tailored to their specific needs and aesthetic wants.