3D Printing

Garden Designing with a 3D Printer

This story profiles one of the things I love most about the 3D printing movement.  It is a movement that is truly global in scale, and as a result those of us interested in 3D printing are often scattered far and wide around the planet. And yet, because of these machines it is becoming increasingly common for many people who would not have anything in common with one another to find themselves drawn together for shared reasons.

For example, what does gardening and additive manufacturing have in common? What possible connection can exist between a relaxing pastoral hobby and advanced industrial fabrication? More than you might imagine, as I recently discovered.

The Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show, held every year in London, is one of the biggest and most popular flower and garden shows in the world. Though it got its start back in 1862, it has continued to grow and evolve into a world-class showcase for outdoor designers and today is attended by hundreds of thousands of people each year. And this year, it’s going to evolve (at least a little bit) again.

Chelsea officials announced that a select group of designers will compete this year in what is called the first ‘miNiATURE’ show. The designers will submit an entire garden design, which instead of being composed of living plants, will instead be a 3D printed model. The idea behind this contest is to allow top designers to really go all out and allow their creativity to run wild, regardless of cost or complexity. Real plants are quite expensive and difficult to work with, not to mention that land space at the show is limited, so this idea was to see what could be created without such limitations.

The project was the brainchild of British designers Tom Harfleet, Andrew Fisher Tomlin and Swedish-born Australian Kajsa Bjorne, and will feature designers from placed as diverse as the United Kingdom, Australia and South Korea, to name a few.  The contest’s 3D printing requirements are being supported by HOBs3D, a London-based additive manufacturing service provider. Interestingly enough, in addition to printing the actual displays at the show, they will also be giving live 3D printing demonstrations on site in a special HOBs3D gallery room to help visitors understand exactly how the entire ‘concept to finished display’ process worked.

miNiATURE will take place from March 5 – 8, 2014 at the Strand Gallery in London.  For more information about the show, you can contact Andrew Fisher Tomlin via email.

Now I live and work in South Korea, which by all accounts is not yet really involved in the 3D printing arena, so I am especially excited to see our own Jihae Hwang is one of the ten artists being invited to compete in this show. Ms. Hwang has made quite a name for herself in the landscape and design communities and I hope that her experiences and successes will help bring more excitement back to Korea regarding not just her art, but 3D printing as well.

So, if two things as seemingly diverse as outdoor gardening and 3D printing can be integrated so well, I ask you; what are the limits to the potential applications of this technology?