M.I.A. in 3D

In Sri-Lankan/UK-based rapper M.I.A.’s latest self-directed video she gives pride of place to a 3D printer “printing” the letters of her stage name before segueing to creative displays of 3D-printed guns.

3D printing is a kind of additive manufacuring only a few steps behind Star Trek replicators.

The software elements of 3D printing are at the same time coming together.

I was in Ottawa several times over the last year and had the chance to work with Archer Precision who cut metal parts using huge 5-axis CNC machines which are used in such specialized devices as bomb-sniffing robots and sattelites – and I also spent some time with Britta Evans Fenton at Art Engine who experiment with 3D printing and live event multimedia and are affiliated with the SAW gallery.

A friend of mine and myself, in Ottawa, put together a quasi 3D-CNC hybrid workflow consisting of:

  • Blender 3D
  • Blender CAM
  • Several specialized plugins for Blender 3D including Bolt Factory
  • LinuxCNC

Now I don’t know if C&C Music Factory from way back in the 80s…

…morphed into M.I.A. in the 20 – teens (who I incidentally saw in concert at Metropolis the month I wrote this), but surely we are on the cusp of something different, a rapidly advancing new technology whose ultimate future, whether via nanotechnology or advanced A.I. is the Star Trek replicator.

(cue John Connor’s voice from the end of Terminator Salvation)

M.I.A., 3D guns, we have only just begun.

For real techies, we ran LinuxCNC, which is a Ubuntu-based appliance, on Virtual Box on top of a Linux Mint base. Of course Linux CNC could run right on the metal of even a moderately powered PC. Outputting the G-Code, which is a very linear set of instructions to how drills will cut the object, could be very processor intensive for very complex work so a tricked-out workstation would be best for more sophisticated jobs.



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