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CASE STUDY - Roland MODELA MDX-20

Michael

Michael is an Australian artist who work ranges from 2D and 3D gallery pieces to works for public spaces.

Use of Technology
Michael uses modern manufacturing technology to help create some of his work. Computer software and modern computer controlled machinery were used in the creation of the piece shown below.

Sculpture by the Sea
Work for Sculpture By The Sea, a public art exhibition along Sydney's eastern suburbs beaches.

Why Use Technology?
Artists such as Michelangelo used apprentices to do a lot of the time consuming manual work, even on their greatest pieces. The artist would direct their apprentices and then personally work on the fine details of the piece. An example is the apprentice cutting away un-needed material for a sculpture. The artist would step in near the end and personally finish the piece with their own hands. The fact that someone else did some of the work in no way diminishes the value or authenticity of the artwork.

Similarly, computer software and computer controlled machinery can be considered the modern day version of the artist's apprentice. It is merely a silicon chip based tool for the artist to work with. The artistic integrity of a piece still lies in the ideas and inspiration of the artist. Even with modern technology, artists are often required to provide final hand detailing of the work.

Using the Tools
Michael has a number of computer tools, one of which is the Roland MDX-20 3D scanner and CNC mill. Michael has primarily used the MDX-20 to scan objects. Michael has used 2D and 3D design software packages '3D Engrave' which is included with the Roland MDX-20.

An example of how Michael uses the technology is illustrated in the piece below.

3D ceramic image

Michael used a photograph of his daughter to create a 3D ceramic piece. The picture was scanned into the computer and imported by '3D Engrave'. '3D Engrave' converted the picture into a 3D computer model. The 3D model was cut by the Roland MDX-20 CNC mill. The 3D files that '3D Engrave' creates can be exported for cutting on other machines, not just the Roland.

The 3D model was then cut into pattern making wax to make a master pattern. A ceramic part was then created, glazed and fired.

Another example is the Chairman Mao 'Lifesaver' piece. An original brass piece was 3D scanned in the Roland scanner (shown below). The 3D computer model of Chairman Mao was then integrated with other parts in a 3D design program. The final design was then cut on a larger cutting machine.

Chairman Mao piece

Roland MDX-20 scanning

Benefits of Technology
The use of computer technology in sculpture is becoming more common. The technology adds new dimensions to explore ideas as well as providing efficiencies in producing artwork. Computer technology is ideally suited for precise, complex or time consuming tasks.

Software Used

Roland 3D Engrave
Roland Modela Player
Rhinoceros