Simulation-Based Design for 3D Printing: Special Effects and the Store of the Future

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3D Printing Simulation Based Design

In a two-part lecture during the Inside 3D Printing conference in Chicago, artist and designer Isaac Katz of Electronic Art Boutique gave us an overview of the powerful 3D modeling software programs available on the market today.  He considers these programs to be essential creative tools, which he uses to create works of art, jewelry and sculpture in a process he calls “simulation-based design“.

Katz employs sculpting programs like Zbrush and Mudbox, and the more CAD-centered Rhino to create powerful and detailed images which he projects onto canvas, and exports to 3D printers to create sculptures and jewelry casts.  These tools are commonly to create visual effects for 2D media, but can have a broad range of other applications, including architecture, industrial design, jewelry, sculpture and others.  Katz emphasized that programs like Zbrush and Mudbox harness a great deal of mathematical power, and are capable of generating an “incredibly high level of detail” that extends even beyond what current 3D printers are capable of rendering in a physical model.

However, Katz noted, 3D printing capability continues to catch up and is poised to grow exponentially, and the intersection of 3D simulation technology and 3D printing has the power to change our visual experience of the world.

3D Printing Simulation Based Design

For designers, Katz explained that this process presents a completely new way of looking at design and product creation that allows them to both capture more detail and project a range of organic and fluid shapes that may otherwise be difficult or impossible to obtain.  Increasingly, if you can imagine and create a character, you can animate and print that same character using motion capture technology, as well as other non-traditional, non-CAD software, and thanks to 3D printing technology, you can also create a physical model of your character.

For investors and business owners, the combination of simulation technology and 3D printing provides “a glimpse into the design process…and some vision for what’s possible,” both today and in the years to come.

In the second part of his lecture, Katz articulated his vision for the future of retail in a world that continues to trend toward greater personalization.  Katz drew a sharp contrast between the retail store of the present, in which producers and customers alike are forced to transact around pre-designed and pre-fabricated products, and the store of the future, in which customers will be able to purchase clothing and other goods that are uniquely made to their specifications at or after the time of purchase.

Such a world, in Katz’s view, would not only allow retailers to save costs by eliminating the need for complex distribution chains, but it would also invite users into the creative process as part of the retail experience.


Authored by On 3D Printing contributor Lisa M. Pérez, co-founder of Heart Design Inc.


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3 Responses to Simulation-Based Design for 3D Printing: Special Effects and the Store of the Future

  1. [...] for manufacture” is starting to fade with the onset of 3D printing.  Conference presenters Isaac Katz, Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti noted that artists and designers are now able to design and 3D [...]

  2. […] He presented at Inside 3D Printing San Jose about The Future of Retail. (Related: Isaac Katz also presented at Inside 3D Printing Chicago earlier this […]

  3. […] and 3D CAD design software; and “Tools of Creation and the Future of Retail,” in which Isaac Katz will expand upon his account of how 3D printing will change the retail experience and provide a […]

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