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Centre for Fine Arts opens exhibition of the groundbreaking manufacturing technology of 3D Printing
Dror Benshetrit, Volume.MGX, 2009. Manufacturer: Materialise. Photo: .MGX by Materialise.

BRUSSELS.- The exhibition explores the added value of 3D Printing - a groundbreaking manufacturing technology likely to be critical in the next decades - for the lives of individuals, our society and the environment. The exhibition features 3D-printed works of art, design, engineering and scientific fields by renowned artists, designers, public initiatives and prestigious research institutions, as well as by unknown innovative makers.

Three decades after its invention, by now it is clear that 3D Printing is a manufacturing technology that can transform and revolutionize the way we can make almost anything. Experts estimate that it will be a key technology in this century, enabling industrial applications and developments that were impossible before. In fact it is already all around us: many products used in our daily life are already prototyped or manufactured using 3D printers.

Yet 3D Printing can support opposing forces, like war and peace: it can be used to print weapons to kill or surgical tools to save lives. Like any other groundbreaking technology in the past, its added value is relative to many factors: what is its true potential for technical innovation? Which creative universes does it open up? How is it used collectively and by each one of us? The current expansion of 3D Printing also raises questions concerning its positive and negative impact on our world. Given its projected future role, it is critical to examine how it can affect our environment, shape our society and change individual lives.

Making a Difference / A Difference in Making looks at 3D Printing with both the eyes of fascination and a deeper observation of its consequences. Visitors are invited to discover a production technology that allows us to make things differently , and also ponder how it can help individuals, enable social changes and positively contribute to the environment. In other words, how 3D Printing is making a difference.

The exhibition is presented in two main sections:

In the section A Difference in Making, the visitor can appreciate a series of inspiring design creations from the early days of 3D Printing to the most fascinating contemporary examples. These works have all been conceived as design experiments that explore the formal and material opportunities enabled by the invention and development of 3D printing technology. Together they illustrate a striking array of the technical and creative potentials of 3D Printing, including: the making of complex forms, which are inspired by nature or generated with digital data and advanced software tools; the creation of 3D-printed materials, which exhibit physical properties that cannot be found in traditional materials; the use of 3Dprinted scaffolds, which act as support of natural processes of petrification or growth to create physical objects in cooperation with nature; and others. The ensemble of these works honors the curiosity and creativity of their authors, as well as the crucial role of the 3D printing companies who supported them in their experimental quest. In fact, the mere existence of these pieces shows the success of creators and technical experts challenging each other. Their added value is demonstrated by how often these ideas have been picked up and transferred to successful industrial applications.

The section Making a Difference is divided in 3 rooms, corresponding to different curatorial domains: Environment, Individual and Society. In all three rooms the public will discover a collection of 3D-printed objects that have been carefully selected for their meaningful value. They include objects that range from medical implants, prosthetic devices, automotive and aerospace parts, furniture pieces, household appliances, and more.

Making a Difference for the Environment showcases projects that use 3D Printing with the specific concern of saving material and energy resources, as well as works that interrogate how 3D printing technology can itself be more sustainable and environmentally responsible. Through the changes tackled by these projects, the visitor becomes aware about how this technology can make a difference for the planet we all inhabit.

Making a Difference for the Individual illustrates how 3D Printing enables the production of customized objects and parts, based on personal data. The projects presented here relate to the personal stories of people who have been touched by the technology, as it provides an individual solution to a unique case. The visitors are invited to participate and interact with customizable objects, as a means to communicate how 3D Printing can make a difference in their lives.

MMaking a Difference for Society shows different ways in which 3D Printing can shape our society. Here too, the selected projects give a multi-faceted perspective on the added value of the technology, while provoking inevitable questions. The works address varied subjects such as: the use of 3D Printing for the conservation of our past and future heritage; its role in revitalizing lost crafts; its implications as a critical instrument of emancipation and social empowerment; its potential in improving education; and others.

The exhibition is curated by Marta Malé-Alemany and is organized to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Materialise, a pioneering Belgian company dedicated to the engineering, development and application of 3D Printing.

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