Filament. 01-04
by Alan Nguyen

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Product designer Alan Nguyen has taken a series of extreme close-up photos of 3D-printer filament waste, revealing how the machines can produce detritus of surprising beauty.

Filament. 01-04 3D printing macro photos by Alan Nguyen

A product designer at Amsterdam 3D printing firm Freedom of Creation, Alan Nguyen created the images using blobs of filament generated when changing the cartridge of plastic on a Cube 3D Printer.

Filament. 01-04 3D printing macro photos by Alan Nguyen

"Normally people just throw them away, but I've been collecting these strands of filament for over a year now and they are just so beautiful," said Nguyen.

Filament. 01-04 3D printing macro photos by Alan Nguyen

"It's pure poetry," he explained. "Being produced from a machine that is designed to create exact physical copies of predefined digital code dictating where they should be laid down by Cartesian coordinates, they are free-moving spontaneous bursts of purely saturated awesomeness."

Filament. 01-04 3D printing macro photos by Alan Nguyen

Cube 3D Printers work by feeding a roll of plastic less than two-millimetres-wide into the extruder head, where it's melted and squeezed out to draw the 3D product layer by layer.

The gradients in these images are created when swapping from one colour of filament to another, and the squiggles are produced when calibrating the print head after adding new material.

Filament. 01-04 3D printing macro photos by Alan Nguyen

"If you've ever noticed when you use a normal printer, immediately after loading a new cartridge you might get a bit of bleeding of colours because it needs calibration, or some old ink leaked a bit," said Nguyen. "This is exactly the same thing that happens with the Cube 3D Printers while loading a new cartridge."

Filament. 01-04 3D printing macro photos by Alan Nguyen

"A bit of the old filament is left behind when unloading the plastic and mixes with the new filament resulting in these beautifully perfect gradients," he continued. "All of the drama at the top is created purely by chance from external forces either by friction, the ambient climate or somebody simply walking past and altering the flow."

The designer is currently working on a limited run of artist's prints for this series and will release another series soon.

Filament. 01-04 3D printing macro photos by Alan Nguyen

Produced by Cubify, which together with Freedom of Creation is owned by American firm 3D Systems, the Cube became the first desktop 3D printer to be available through a major retailer when US chain Staples began to stock it earlier this year.

Freedom of Creation founder and Cubify creative director Janne Kyttanen talked to Dezeen about how such machines promise the kind of plug-and-play simplicity we have come to expect from the electronic products in our home, in a movie report we filmed as part of Print Shift, our one-off publication about additive manufacturing.

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