This article by Marc Kristal from Metropolis Magazine, originally titled "Digital Details," looks at the work of NRI, a New York company that is leading the way when it comes to 3D Printing (or rather, additive manufacturing) - finding that there is a craft in these machine-produced models after all.
First things ﬁrst: The term “3-D printing” is a misnomer according to Arthur Young-Spivey, the digital fabrication specialist at NRI—a 116-year-old, New York–headquartered supplier of reprographic services to architects and their tradespeople. “The correct term is ‘additive manufacturing,’” he explains. “People call it 3-D printing because it enables you to wrap your head around it, but in some ways it’s confusing.”
Young-Spivey has a point, as the process by which a digital ﬁle is converted into an object isn’t “printing” in the commonly understood sense of applying pigment on a substrate. With 3-D printing, he says, “Instead of using paper, you’re printing with powder or plastics. It’s all one layer at a time.” The thinner the layer, the better the quality, and the longer the process takes. “And there’s always post-production processing, to clean up the model,” he adds. “That’s why ‘additive manufacturing’ is a more accurate description.”
Read on for more on the work of NRI