This article originates from Women In 3D Printing and is part of our effort to support the use of 3D printing technology by women. The article is re-published with permission.
Darlene Farris-LaBar is both an associate professor of art at East Stroudsburg University and an internationally known artist who makes art about the natural environment. Her creations are not only beautiful but they also serve as educational tools in order to provide awareness about the vulnerability of the environment.
Nora Toure: Darlene, could you let us know about your background and what brought you into 3D printing?
Darlene Farris Labar: As a sculptor, I have always been excited about learning new techniques, materials and technologies. My past sculptures and installations have incorporated various media such as organic material, found objects, sound, video, electronic media and even light sensors. Sculpture offers artists an endless amount of media to work with. After learning about 3D printing, I saw a new possibility for expression. After researching and teaching myself 3D digital software, 3D scanning and 3D printing techniques I saw newer opportunities to extend our imagination to unknown territories.
Nora Toure: What was your first experience with 3D Printing?
Darlene Farris Labar: I began researching 3D printing about 5 years ago when my colleague and I were incorporating it in our Art + Design program at East Stroudsburg University. I am thrilled that my many creative students will now have 3D printing skills for their future careers. I believe that bringing 3D printing in to our curriculum will open many doors for our graduates.
Nora Toure: Where does your inspiration come from?
Darlene Farris Labar: There is so much beauty in the natural world. I am greatly fascinated by how nature has engineered its endless forms and colors. Each life form posses a specific role and function that is meant to keep the natural environment thriving. When I illustrate the flowers in 3D, I become an explorer that leads me to experience the flowers with a greater perspective. The process of designing the flowers is incredibly enlightening for me. I venture into new worlds that further expand my knowledge and appreciation of the planet. The plants become other worldly and alien-like. I always feel a bit wiser at the completion of each work. It is my goal to bring awareness about the importance of each plant species to the ecosystem and preserve them for future generations.
Nora Toure: Why using 3D printing for your creations?
Darlene Farris Labar: I enjoy what I am able to create through digital software. It is like illustrating but in the round. In software, I am able to design amazing intricate structures from both the inside and outside portion of the flower which only a 3D printer can then replicate. Since 3D printing is ever changing with new techniques and materials, the original digital file can later be used over and over with the newer technologies that advance and develop.
Nora Toure: Do you integrate other technologies and techniques in your work as well?
Darlene Farris Labar: At the moment, I am researching newer technology and materials. There are very cool things developing out there. I see the upcoming technology as being more world changing than 3D printing has been for the last 5 yrs. For my most recent work, I have been using just the basics such as 3D scanners, software and then printing. I also use a wide range of digital software for each flower. I normally jump around to various design software before I finalize a design.
Nora Toure: What do you think of the 3D printing industry today?
Darlene Farris Labar: I think that 3D printing today isn’t really pushing the possibilities of what 3D printing can really do. I have been observing very creative people who are going beyond the conventional 3D printing. There new insights I find very fascinating.
Nora Toure: How would like to see the 3D printing industry evolve in the future?
Darlene Farris Labar: We will start seeing a new future with energy efficient machines and sustainable materials. I truly feel that sci-fi movies and the imaginations of early visionaries will become more our reality. I hope our future will hold more thoughtful designs and processes that have a purpose for good things in the world.
Nora Toure: In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?
Darlene Farris Labar: As a woman, I find it challenging to find the time to do research. My days are consumed by being a professor, mother, wife, and much, much more. Many of my female colleagues are also multi-tasking and taking on similar roles. With our professional and personal roles, our time, funding for researching, and creating for 3D printing is very limited. I wish there were more 3D printing funding opportunities and special research residencies in 3D printing and technology oriented for women who have busy lives and lot of responsibilities to tend to. I have spent many late nights, when my family is a sleep, when the house is quiet and there is finally have an open window of time to figure out how to use the newest technology. Having the support and extra help will not only give talented, smart and creative women opportunities to get involved in to 3D printing but, could bring the world desired innovation that only the insight and experience of a women could bring.
Also, we need to promote 3D printing technology for girls! Our culture needs to rethink how we engage girls with technology. I am looking forward to seeing more girls involved in to 3D printing so we have a more equally balanced world of makers from both genders.
If you are interested in learning more about Darlene, we invite you to visit her floral and colorful website!