3D Printing

Sculptor Dario Santacroce Explores Perfect Forms with 3D Printed Sandstone

In so many ways digital, additive manufacturing (i.e. 3D printing) represents the closing of a circle that spans decades and even centuries. Consider, for example, Emerging Objects’ use of Mayan-inspired structures to build 3D printed bricks. Or the entire concept of returning to tailor-made products with 3D printing, as we used to have before the industrial revolution of mass production.

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Dario Santacroce is a sculptor who explores time as a metaphor, theory, experience, and idea through the use of simple forms and stone.  For him, 3D printing is a way to close the circle initiated millennia ago by Classic Greek philosopher Plato. Among his many philosophical observations and reasoning, Plato stated that physical forms can never be as perfect as conceptual ones. By shaping concepts into virtual 3D models and bringing those into reality, 3D printing can be used to challenge Plato’s concepts while, at the same time, making it very much true.

Santacroce’s Spherical Creations collection explores the concept of Plato’s perfect forms. In order to do this, he used voxeljet’s sand binder jetting technology. He has been experimenting with this material for the past two years, trying to find ways to make it more durable, as well as giving it a better surface finish. In a very practical application of 3D printing, he also conceived of 3D printed tools to rework parts of the sculptures.

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Over the course of a decade I found this [Plato’s] theory to be frustratingly correct,” Santacroce said of his work. “My desire to sculpt beautiful and exact geometric forms using what are considered relatively simple shapes proved extremely difficult to execute.”
Computer Assisted Drawing (CAD) software and Additive Manufacturing has allowed me greater accuracy and exibility throughout all stages of creation, while also allowing me to visualize my design with a Theory of Forms degree of perfection – all before the final execution of tangible objects,” the sculptor explains. “And where conventional striking tools fall short, high speed, diamond plated rotary blades yield not only highly precise undercuts and finishes, but remarkable new possibilities for shapes and designs.
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For his Spherical Creations series Santacroce was not only interested in using a new methodology but also in finding the right material that would enhance the meaning of the piece. He considered metal, glass, stone and ceramics and final found the ideal solution in the special form of pure silica sand, used by voxeljet to 3D print large size investment cores.

As Santacroce explains, this also serves as a a metaphor to use with the Theory of Forms. In fact, it also fits with the whole idea of manufacturing coming full circle, in that “cores are not the final piece in and of themselves, as their sole purpose is to facilitate the production of multiples“.

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Once manufactured into the desired shape, the look and feel is that of dark sandstone; a material that does not polish, that does not reflect the world on its surface but at the same time allows it to reflect into the world. The 15-sculpture project, which was financed by 5 collectors, has been completed November 1st. Needless to say that, to fully comprehend it, one should see it in real life. It will be possible to do so at Galerie Eulenspiegel, from April 7th to May 14th, 2016

Spherical Creations is our era’s embodiment of Plato’s master form in the never-ending search for perfection – in form and in finish. A complete presentation from mind to manifestation,” Santacroce concludes. The search for perfection is part of human nature and, by offering a way to better reproduce that nature, 3D printing, in the hands of artists, can take us just a bit closer to perfection in manufacturing.

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