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Lights, Camera, Action: 3D Print Hits Hollywood

(August 2017) posted on Wed Aug 23, 2017

This entertainment industry one-stop shop adds 3D printing to its repertoire.

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By Kiersten Feuchter

Scott Niner, president and owner of Dangling Carrot Creative (DCC), has kept his eye on 3D printing for years. The company calls itself a one-stop shop for the entertainment industry – a business that, according to Niner, “works at the speed of light.” So, technology that could churn out prop guns, statues, and even set designs with a few pushes of a button would really be useful.

Until recently, however, the technology available didn’t really meet Niner’s standards: a balance of speed, size, and versatility. The shop recently brought in a Massivit 3D printer and has spent the past month or so tinkering and learning about the machine.

So far, it seems like the possibilities are endless. Hollywood insists on keeping its business shrouded in secrecy, of course, but Niner alludes to projects including a full-scale lion, custom furniture designs, a vignette of a sci-fi character, and an impressive 9 x 18-foot spaceship that appears as if it’s crashing into the ground.

Usually, that spaceship would’ve been carved out of foam – talk about meticulous. With 3D, DCC pushes a button and then glues the panels together. “We don’t have days to do jobs; we have hours,” he says. The shop’s daily delivery schedule – 5 a.m., 10 a.m., and 2 p.m. – underscores that nonstop culture. It pays to be your client’s quickest choice.

DCC brings large-format expertise to the table, as well. The shop already offers capabilities like vehicle wrapping, backlit printing, sign manufacturing, and much more. That all comes in handy when extending the capabilities of its 3D machine.

“Some of the things that aren’t really good for a 3D printer to print, we’ll incorporate by laser-cutting those pieces and adding on to the 3D model,” Niner says. But most critically, he adds that they’re “working feverishly on perfecting wrapping these products with digitally printed vinyl.”

Why is this so important? Again, we’re talking hours, not days. Vinyl wrapping is far faster – and more economical – than bringing in a scenic painter for every new prop and design. The challenge is learning how to adapt 3D designs for 2D digital print. Niner says he’s collaborating with a number of software companies – the kind that help manufacturers lay out the fabric for complex shapes like car seats, for example – to figure out how to flatten that 3D image for print.

“There are some challenges,” he says, “but there’s no way I’m not gonna get there. It’s the number one priority right now.” After all, someone has to be the first.

Read Tim Greene's "3D Printing: Expanding Your Reach" or check out more from Big Picture's August 2017 "Outside the Lines" issue.

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