Why Animation Students and Recent Graduates Should Embrace 3D Printing
Many animation students are trained in 3D printer design software as part of their studies. Animation students are also trained in design and traditional art skills, giving them plenty of great tools and skills to work with. These skills need not be limited only to working in the animation and gaming industries.
The economy is having a major impact on many recent graduates from art and design schools. Graduates have problems finding work in the animation and gaming industry. Indeed, it is not the economy of 2008 and before, when all you needed was a great art portfolio.
For example, I graduated in 2009 with a BFA in animation, but could not get work and even my fellow graduates who had some great work under their belts could not find employment. Currently, most of my classmates are working in other industries.
It is time to look for other opportunities where the animator skills can be used and where one can make a living. 3D printing provides one such opportunity. You can use your favorite 3D graphics package and generate your artistic designs then export it to one of the popular 3D printing-compatible file formats. Afterwards you can upload it to the web to be downloaded or sold.
There are many places on the internet where you can upload your masterpiece, either as paid downloadable content for home printers or as 3D printed object ffor high-end printers with high surface detail and in materials are only available for industrial 3D printers.
Two of my favorite file-sharing marketplaces are Pinshape and Shapeways. You can decide how much you want to charge for your design and what materials they will be printed in. You can even decide if it can be downloaded for free.
Another option for the animator is to become a 3D printer expert. Use the visual thinking skills to verify if the design can be printed by the printers at the 3D printing bureau. Assist in helping people who are making content to make sure the stuff is printable. Run the 3D printers and make sure things are working like they should.
One option is to buy a 3D printer. My suggestion would be to get a DPL/SLA based printer because they have the best surface details in the consumer market right now. Then you can design 3D content that can be sold at events such as sci-fi or anime or other similar genre conventions.
There are many avenues as an animation graduate and animation student to explore when it comes to the possibilities of 3D printing. You can come up with new and exciting opportunities to make a living. There are a lot of people who would be willing to buy your products. As more and more people buy 3D printers for the home, there will be an ever increasing demand for content. Take the bull by the horns!
Mike Grauer Jr is a Puget Sound area 3D printing consultant and evangelist for home 3D printing. He has a BFA in Animation and a MBA in marketing. He is active in all areas of 3D printing.