I’m always looking for new ways to exploit my creativity through technology—video, interactive, and mobile—but 3D printing is on an entirely new level. The fact that I can now do it in Adobe Photoshop CC is a huge bonus (watch this video to learn how). We’re able to create physical objects that never existed before; we’re inventors, a sculptors, and artists. It’s enough to give someone a god complex. If you’re anything like me, the ideas have already started flooding in; before you jump in let’s take a step back and get a general understanding of how it all works.
3D printing is considered additive manufacturing. It’s an amazingly simple process that consists of layers of material (plastic, wood, metal, sand, sugar, or even chocolate) being laid down in a pattern, one layer at a time, until the 3D object is created. There are three major types of 3D printing: Fused Deposition Modeling, Stereolithography, and Laser Sintering. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages.
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
The most common type of additive manufacturing, FDM is easy, affordable, and can be used with many different materials. The process involves feeding a spool of filament into an extruder where it’s melted down (like a hot glue gun) and “drawn,” one layer at a time, to create a 3D shape.
$1,000 – $5,000
Low cost with affordable filament
Large variety of materials
Fairly easy to maintain and replace parts
Nozzle clogging is common
Supports can be tough to clean
Layers can be visible (striping)
Stereolithography is a fascinating process in which a beam of UV light draws a pattern over a photosensitive pool of liquid resin. When the light hits the liquid it hardens. Once that layer is complete the base then moves to make room for the next layer, until the 3D object is made. SLA can be really good for designers looking for extra detail, with the potential for mass production, or for anyone who wants to cast their art in bronze or some other metal.
$3,000 – $7,000
Detail down to 25 microns (thinner than a sheet of paper)
Smooth surface details
Great for casting/molding and models
Nozzle clogging is common
Resin can be messy
Materials are limited and more brittle
3D printers are more expensive
Laser Sintering (SLS)
SLS works much like Stereolithography, but with a powder instead of a liquid. When the laser hits the powder, it hardens; the powder surrounding the object being printed acts as a support so there are no additional supports or scaffolding to break off as with the other processes. The powder is then removed leaving just the solid object, which can be plastic, metal, ceramic, or even full-color sandstone (the metal and full-color sandstone options are particularly exciting). Although there’s not a consumer printer option available, objects can be sent to Shapeways.com for printing.
Detail down to 16 microns
No support structures
Higher model flexibility since parts can be completely suspended
Working mechanical parts can be printed with no assembly required
Powder requires some work to remove
No desktop printer options
Aluminum / Steel
Which is best?
SLS is the best option—despite the $50K cost of a printer—because from within Photoshop CC you can send your models directly to Shapeways.com who will print them and send them to your house. Curious about cost? A fancy iPhone case like this one cost me about $25.
Interested in buying your own? Well right now the FDM printers are the most widely available and their quality is getting really good. I personally like the Makerbot Replicator, 5th generation. Makerbot was one of the first companies to make 3D printers commercially and they are arguably the industry standard, with profiles built into Photoshop CC. I also like the Ultimaker 2 because it just feels more designer/Mac friendly and it’s open source. But what I REALLY want is the Formlabs Form 1 Stereolithography printer. It provides lots of detail, and you don’t see any of the layering lines. Plus the objects just look cool coming out of the liquid resin
This is the story of how one bored chick named Charlie learned how to 3D-print his own eggs using the new 3D printing capabilities in Photoshop CC; and how you could win your own exclusive egg (designed and printed by Charlie) by visiting our pop-up studio in East London where we’ll be displaying 25 designer interpretations of the egg alongside live 3D-printing demos.
Charlie and the 3D egg
Charlie, a keen designer, decided to create an egg of his own. Inspired by Behance he used Adobe Creative Cloud (and Photoshop CC) to 3D print his very own eggs. Because something worth doing, is worth doing beautifully.
The 3D printing story
So how did Charlie print his own egg? Well, Adobe Photoshop CC can now be used to create, color and texture 3D models, including those produced in other 3D modeling programs. Photoshop CC has support for beautifying a 3D model and then printing it with amazing results. We’ve removed the complexity of the process; all you need to do is select the desired printer and material, and click print. Download a free trial.
How to get your very own 3D egg
To get your claws on one of Charlie’s exclusive 3D eggs, simply tweet using #CreativityForAll and tell us what creativity means to you. We’ll choose the best comments and send the lucky winners their own 3D printed sandstone eggs!*
25 designers and 25 eggs
Charlie isn’t the only one printing eggs. To showcase the new 3D printing capabilities of Adobe Creative Cloud, we commissioned 25 innovative designers to create their own interpretation of the classic egg. We’re exhibiting these eggs and a whole load more at our pop-up studio:
10:00 am–5:00 pm 11 & 12 April | 11:00am–4:00pm 13 April
Shop 7, The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, London, E1 6QL
Come down and say hello, find out more about Adobe’s latest offerings, see a 3D designer in action, 3D printers producing eggs on demand and, who knows, maybe even Charlie hard at work…
A few of the designs we’ve seen so far (check back for updates as the eggs are printed):
* Terms and conditions
The competition is limited to the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway Finland and Denmark and closes 9:00am GMT on 14.04.14. Prizes limited to one per person. (Details of participation.)
Modeling and printing 3D objects can seem like daunting tasks but in this new Adobe Learn tutorial, I’ll show you how Photoshop CC simplifies the process. Not only will it get you into the exciting field of 3D design and printing but, best of all, you won’t even need your own 3D printer.
Watch three short videos, practice and print with the sample file included in the tutorial, and you’ll be designing and printing your own 3D objects in no time.
In the first video of the series, you’ll see how easy it is to convert a simple 2D pendant design into a 3D model, then customize the design to change the depth and size of the object for print.
In the second, I’ll walk you through the process of choosing different materials for your object and uploading your model from Photoshop CC to Shapeways.com, for printing; you’ll also learn how Adobe’s partnership with this 3D printing service makes it easy to upload and print 3D models and get lightning-fast delivery of your objects.
Once you’re ready to show off your designs, or get inspiration from other designers, watch the third video to learn how to share your 3D models on Behance or your own website.
Now… Grab the tutorial files and give it a try.
More tutorials from Adobe Learn.