PLA is the new wood

PLA is the new wood
Wood, 3D print

Made from wood:

  • natural
  • inconsistent look & feel
  • texture holds the history and origin of the material

3D printed with PLA (polylactide; printed in FDM tech.)

  • natural
  • inconsistent look & feel
  • like wood, the texture lets you quite easily recognize the origin of item

This is the description I could give to the picture above.

There’s an aesthetic sensus communis around wood and this could be broke down to “wood is wood”. Which means “hey, what did you expect, wood is wood” and “thank god this is not this sh&@ty plastic, my Papa always said, wood is wood”. The wood is expected to be wood, nothing more and nothing less.

What is expected from a 3D printed model? The funny thing is: certainly not a 3D print. A 3D print is usually expected to be shiny-glossy-smoothy piece of plastic. Why? Because we expect the thing which we are used to and we (generally; at least from my experience) are not used to 3D printing. It’s not a crime. However expecting something to come out the same but made different is like expecting the same from a handshake and a punch. And that’s a fallacy.

Many talk about the chances of 3D printing to become everything the Internet became and even more (industrial revolution and so on). Many talk about the barriers and opportunities of this to come. IMHO one of the main barriers of wide-spread 3D printing is the aesthetics. Because of the fallacy described above. As long as people expect something different from 3D prints than they are, as long 3D printing will stay underground.

That is why right now 3D printing professional and unprofessional communities strive to the get the same aesthetic values from 3D prints as they get with China-made mold creations (notice how I’m not using the word “quality”). Has anyone asked themselves why? When did we start to identify perfection or beauty with shiny-glossy-smoothy? Well wood isn’t… And my favourite part is: we expect from something as beautiful as wood to give splinters which are a mother ‘ucker to get out. This maybe a little shortcut to say that wood is beautiful but then again I thought this may not seem so crazy to you; wood is one of those things that can be used as a building material and an ornament as well.

I would say that this urge to compare mold to 3D printing is so strong, that one thing about 3D printing technology’s future that is certain, is the chase for the shiny-glossy-smoothy.

There is a lot more in 3D prints to always be in the shadow of stampings. But people (and that also includes me) would have to look a little deeper to see a 3D print a little richer. Wood is again a good example: in aesthetic reception of wood its natural origin is almost so immanent that it’s transparent. We see a little more in wood than what we actually see. Wood might be imperfect, but that’s already counted in.

PLA might not be the new wood yet. But it could be. At least since you read thist post:) This understanding of aesthetic specificity may give 3D printing a little more pace.


2 thoughts on “PLA is the new wood

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