The words on the tip of everyone’s tongue lately has been 3D printing. There has been much speculation as to how these devices can be used to make money, from manufacturing anything from guns to pacemakers. One area that has not received very much coverage is the impact 3D printing may have in the realm of photography.
Since the advent of digital cameras, photographers have had much more control over their pictures. By using programs such as Photoshop or Picasa, one can digitally enhance a picture to a degree never seen before by film photography. The popularity of digital photography helped pave the way for the ability to use 3D printers in this medium, since a decent digital camera can be purchased for a reasonable price, and a 3d printer can be purchased for a (somewhat) reasonable price. There is now an ability for someone with a photography business to implement 3D printing into their work, creating new and exciting methods of portraying photographs such as portraits, stills, and even landscapes in a new and eye-opening medium.
To begin to do this, one should be fairly familiar with the current technology that is employed when making a 3D print from a digital photograph. Knowledge of digital cameras, including shutter speed, lighting adjustments and pixel usage is essential.
Additionally, having a familiarity with 3D printers is also very important. There are a wide array of different 3D printers on the market, and an individual who would like to use one for photography will need to select a printer that best suits their needs. And lastly, knowledge of software and even programming will be extremely important.
Using 3D printers for any kind of project requires knowledge of how to use computer code, and when one wants to use a 3D printer in photography makes this skill essential. Knowing such programming languages such as Java or PHP will definitely help. However if you don’t have that much knowledge of these principals, don’t worry about it! There is a variety of information online. And of course, a complete knowledge of 3D printers and how they relate to digital photography is not necessary to successfully begin adding 3D options to a photography business; it just makes the process easier.
So, how do you get started? First, you will need to find a 3D printer that is well suited for detailed prints and is capable of conveying color appropriately. Makerbot is one of the best brands on the market today, and is quite capable of handing detailed prints, such as a family portrait. If you have a bit more money to spend, check out the larger industrial 3d printers. They cost quite a bit more, but are able to handle many more mediums and the detail will be second to none.
Once you have an actual printer, you will need to think about the kind of medium that you want to use. Some of the higher-end printers use strong metals such as steel or aluminum, but for photography, using soft plastics would probably be the best bet. These plastic “filaments” can be purchased at many online locations, and have become fairly cheap due to the fact that they are becoming more easy to make, and are in higher demand.
Now that you’ve chosen your 3D printer and the medium you want to work on, it’s time for some of the technical stuff. There are several computer programs currently available to convert photographs into 3D objects. You’d do well to go to http://www.thingiverse.com/ and check out the software they have. One of the great things about 3D printing is that many of these software programs are free, so you can switch programs depending on what best suits your needs without worrying about racking up a huge bill.
An important thing to look for in a 3D printer photo conversion software is ease-of-use. Since you are just getting started, it is important to not feel too overwhelmed when you are trying to set up, run and edit your 3D prints. Look for reviews of programs online that complement the program’s accessibility and interface, since this will mean you will be able to work more quickly and stress free.
Now that we have the software installed, it is time to start printing! Select the picture you want to have printed, and download it on to your computer. Use the 3D printing software to access the photo, and upload it to the 3D printer. Click “start printing”, and your printer will begin printing out an actual photograph! Cool, right?
Just think of the possibilities of implementing a 3D printing element in to your business: family portraits can turn in to small, family sculptures, pictures of a waterfall can be seen in a much more realistic way, and a picture of a flower can become a “real” flower you hold in your hand! So what are you waiting for? Add 3D printing to your photography business today!
- License: Creative Commons image source
Article by Alisha Webb
By Alisha Webb. Alisha is a British writer working out of Barcelona and a content developer for Fimark – a specialist in laser marking.