3-D printing is one of the most wondrous technologies of our time–you can bring to life virtually any design you can imagine!–but also one of the silliest when you boil down the idea to its bare minimum–all these machines really do is just very accurately squeeze goo into a shape.
Somehow, the Analog 3-D Printer, by Daniel Debruin, manages to celebrate both of these extremes. It’s a clock-like collection weights, gears, chunks of bicycle chain, and a syringe. A weight drops, a platform spins like a pottery wheel, and a syringe extruders gunk onto the rotating plate. This gunk noodles itself up over time to form the stata of a vase, much like frosting builds its way up a wedding cake, while Debruin drops the weight again and again to drive the machine, much like he’s winding a grandfather clock.
Of course, while this hand-crafted invention is mechanical wonder, its task building relatively mundane, low-fi models undercuts its necessity to exist. The machine’s over-engineering is inherently absurd, reflecting the current state of 3-D printing where investment-fueled cutting edge technology is used to print out ceramic Superman logos.
But ultimately, Debruin’s inspiration behind the machine wasn’t to criticize the quality or hype around 3-D printing, but to bring the human role of invention back to this automated process.
“3-D printing allows me to create products more swiftly and more efficiently than ever. But these products don’t feel like mine. I love technology but how can I reclaim ownership of my work?” he asks on his site. “Perhaps by building the machine that produces the work. Perhaps by physically powering the machine, which I built, that produces the work.”