Mayfly; Ephemera danica; Length 135 cm including antennas; without antennas 40 cm; printed in 9 parts; antennas, wings, and grass made of different materials.

Mayfly; Ephemera danica; Length 135 cm including antennas; without antennas 40 cm; printed in 9 parts; antennas, wings, and grass made of different materials.

Klaus Leitl is an Austrian artist who makes insects. Incredibly lifelike insects such as the Mayfly shown above. He posted some examples on the Formlabs forums, and they quickly took notice. They’ve posted an interview with him about how 3D printing is changing his craft. The interview and accompanying pictures are quite interesting. Not only because the insects look really cool, but because Klaus shares considerable insight into the way the entire process has changed now that he has a 3D printer.

klaus_mayfly_2

Some of the points that I found most interesting in the article were:

He isn’t simply printing everything

The “holy grail” in many 3D printing hobbyists mind are things that can be printed all at once and simply lifted off the print bed as a finished item. Just like a replicator from Star Trek. We can all agree that his pieces are extremely impressive but he is also spending a considerable amount of time assembling and finishing them. He also has many parts that he still needs to make by hand, such as super thin wings like the ones shown above, or very thin antennae.

Multiple models are incredibly faster with a 3D printer

The old process involved hand sculpting a model for every size and variation of insect he was going to create. The 3D printer allows him to simply scale the parts and assemble them in slightly different poses. When he needs to create 3 or 4 different sizes of the same insect, this adds up to be an incredible time savings.

Anatomical revisions

The old days, an entomologist would look at his final sculpture and point out inaccuracies. Now he can tweak them at a digital stage.

Take a few minutes to read the full interview and look at the rest of the pictures.