In 1943, French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry sat in his apartment in New York’s Central Park South and started to bring to life his greatest creation, the spacefaring boy known as The Little Prince. In 2014, MAKE author Carla Diana will sit a few blocks away in New York’s Columbus Circle and introduce the world to her creation; a 3D printing wizard known as Leo, the Maker Prince.
Leo the Maker Prince is a book for children about the future of 3D printing. The technology is explained through a fun story that involves a young woman (coincidentally named Carla), and a 3D printing robot named Leo (short for Leonardo). “The book has been a really great experience,” said Diana, “because children really love the story, but adults have told me that everything they know about 3D printing. They have learned through the book.”
Diana (and Leo) are doing a hands-on residency sponsored by Shapeways, the 3D printing enabler, at the Museum of Arts and Design, as part of the exhibition Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital, which the museum calls the first in-depth survey of computer assisted production on contemporary art and design.
She will be using a Formlabs 3D printer from the MIT Media Lab, which is one of the first affordable desktop SLA printers. Instead of extruding filaments, Formlabs solidifies a resin with concentrated light, which can make for a much higher resolution print. Diana says she’ll be able to walk people through the 3D printing process: designing objects on a computer screen, and showing them the print that results.
“I think there’s a fascination with 3D printing, and people are hearing about it in the news, but they don’t know what it actually is. When they see the rest of the show, they’ll get a larger picture of digital manufacturing. But when they come here to the residency, they can sit here and talk with me about my firsthand experience with designing things and printing things.”
In the exhibit, Leo is shown in various stages of design and construction, printed in different materials. By the process of human creativity, Leo is not just a maker; he is also made.
Diana and Leo, in all his manifestations, are visible from noon to 6pm, March 11 to 16, 2014 at the Museum of Arts and Design, 2 Columbus Circle, New York NY. The museum is easily accessible via the 1, A, B, C, and D subway lines.