Big Picture - August 2017 - 27
Making a SCENE
Scott Niner, president and owner of Dangling Carrot Creative (DCC, danglingcarrotcreative.com), has kept his eye on 3D printing for years. The company calls itself a
one-stop shop for the entertainment industry - a business that, according to Niner,
"works at the speed of light." So, technology that could churn out prop guns,
statues, and even set designs with a few pushes of a button would really be useful.
Until recently, however, the technology available didn't really meet Niner's
standards: a balance of speed, size, and versatility. The shop recently brought in a
Massivit 3D printer and has spent the past month or so tinkering and learning
about the machine.
So far, it seems like the possibilities are endless. Hollywood insists on keeping
its business shrouded in secrecy, of course, but Niner alludes to projects including a
full-scale lion, custom furniture designs, a vignette of a sci-fi character, and an
impressive 9 x 18-foot spaceship that appears as if it's crashing into the ground.
Usually, that spaceship would've been carved out of foam - talk about meticulous. With 3D, DCC pushes a button and then glues the panels together. "We don't
have days to do jobs; we have hours," he says. The shop's daily delivery schedule -
5 a.m., 10 a.m., and 2 p.m. - underscores that nonstop culture. It pays to be your
client's quickest choice.
DCC brings large-format expertise to the table, as well. The shop already offers
capabilities like vehicle wrapping, backlit printing, sign manufacturing, and much
more. That all comes in handy when extending the capabilities of its 3D machine.
"Some of the things that aren't really good for a 3D printer to print, we'll incorporate by laser-cutting those pieces and adding on to the 3D model," Niner says. But
most critically, he adds that they're "working feverishly on perfecting wrapping
these products with digitally printed vinyl."
Why is this so important? Again, we're talking hours, not days. Vinyl wrapping is
far faster - and more economical - than bringing in a scenic painter for every new
prop and design. The challenge is learning how to adapt 3D designs for 2D digital
print. Niner says he's collaborating with a number of software companies - the kind
that help manufacturers lay out the fabric for complex shapes like car seats, for
example - to figure out how to flatten that 3D image for print.
"There are some challenges," he says, "but there's no way I'm not gonna get
there. It's the number one priority right now." After all, someone has to be the first.
Today's 3D printing technologies have their strengths and
weaknesses. About 80 percent of 3D printers sold are based
on FDM (fused deposition modeling) technology. One of the
strengths of FDM technology is that it's fairly well-proven and
rugged. Many customers accept FDM-level quality, and
there's an ever-increasing array of materials, including
composite materials, that can be extruded. While the
production capabilities while still allowing prices and
operating costs to come down. A good example of this is
Desktop Metal's production 3D printing system, which is
expected to hit the market in 2018. The value proposition of
that system is the ability to print the same materials used in
metal injection molding (MIM) today. Those MIM metal
powders are much less expensive than the metals used in
most of today's 3D metal printing systems, which are based on
sintering and melting technologies.