3D Printing, Physical and Digital spaces

Mikayla Laird:


When the decision was made to implement 3D printing into project, the question became apparent in regards to matter and state, as well as the difference between physical and digital space.

Below is an extract from a previous post on my personal websites, detailing findings in a similar are. As well as a video from PBSoffbook, detailing how 3D printing may change the world:

“When examining the implementation of digital space into physical, there are a number of problems to take into account, as well as the methods required to deliver a seamless experience. Digital experiences can vastly vary as they can be implemented in a number of different ways with infinite possibilities, not only when attempting to convey a message or purpose, but in deciding how to implement it. “From digitally enhanced physical spaces to physically enhanced digital spaces” [Beyon, Quigley & O’Keefe. 2013:2]. With the ubiquity of devices such as smart phones and tablets, have made it increasing easy to find spaces that can be augmented, as well as allow people to take the data received with them where ever they go, “people can bridge physical barriers and access distant information as well as connect to anybody, at any time, from anywhere. As a consequence however, being physically present at a particular place becomes less significant” [Bilandzic, Jones & Foth. 2013:38]. The important thing to keep in mind with this, is making the physical space just as intrinsic to the digital activity, as the device being used to access it.

The joys of a digital space being so fluid and open to experimentation, allows for it to be constructed in a manner that can fit any form of architecture and situation, constraint only by the architects imagination and technological limitations. “People’s sense of place as well as their practices and experiences within a place are influenced by both, physical environment as well as the socio-cultural context of a place.” [Bilandzic, Jones & Foth. 2013:37] However, Imparting to a potential user that a space has been augmented, may provide its own challenge. “The transition from the physical world to the digital world is often unnecessarily complex.” [Benyon, Quigley & O’Keefe. 2013:2] The users need to rely on devices such as a smart phone, smart watch, or tablet might contribute to ruining their emersion in an experience, as they are having to break their focus on the physical location in order to pay attention to a device just to access the digital portion. The presence of things such as a digital marker (a QR code for example) in a digital space, may cause a juxtaposition in the visual ascetics of the physical location. Breaking any form of immersion the physical location may have had over the user, making them fully aware of the difference between the physical and the digital environments, rather than providing a seamless experience. “The blended space has properties not possessed by either the physical or the digital spaces independently. The aim is to produce the new experience of being in a seamless blended space. This takes effort of careful curation of the site and of content creation. There needs to be well-designed transitions between the physical and digital spaces and people need to be made aware of the existence of content in a way that does not break the sense of presence.” [Benyon, Quigley & O’Keefe. 2013:2]” [Laird.2016]


  • Benyon, D., Quigley, A., O’Keefe, B., & Riva, G. (2014). Presence and digital tourism. AI & society, 29(4), 521-529.
  • Bilandzic, M., Jones, M. G., & Foth, M. (2013). The embodied hybrid space: Designing for digital encounters in physical environments. Other Publications of the AMEA Association.
  • Hernández-Leo, D., Nieves, R., Arroyo, E., Rosales, A., Melero, J., & Blat, J. (2012). SOS: Orchestrating collaborative activities across digital and physical spaces using wearable signaling devices. Journal of Universal Computer Science, 18(15), 2165-2186.
  • Karlesky, M., & Isbister, K. (2014, February). Designing for the physical margins of digital workspaces: fidget widgets in support of productivity and creativity. In Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction (pp. 13-20). ACM.
  • Laird, M. (2016) Making it Real – Problems that can arise [Part Two]. [Online]. October 15th. Pulp Pages and Cinema Screens. Available from: https://mikaylalairdwilding.com/2016/10/15/making-it-real-part-two/ [Last accessed: 01/02/2017]
  • PBSoffbook (2013) Will 3D Printing Chang the World | Off Book | PBS Digital Studios. [Online] February 28th. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5AZzOw7FwA [Last Accessed: 30/10/2016]
  • Stokes, B., Bar, F., Baumann, K., & Caldwell, B. (2014). Neighborhood planning of technology: Physical meets digital city from the bottom-up with aging payphones. The Journal of Community Informatics, 10(3).
  • Lupton, D., 2015. 3D Printed Self Replicas: Personal Digital Data Made Solid. Available at SSRN 2645489. [http://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=395120024115023015089106125012011011041045065082089058076118026005078017110067069085102103107025106019053112076117075080075103041072075040036026005027116086112016126006028094073067115017112001121122081014124068090090072117031079027126013000116082000120&EXT=pdf]
  • Holbrook, T.R. and Osborn, L., 2015. Digital patent infringement in an era of 3D printing. UC Davis Law Review, 48, pp.1319-1385. [http://scholarship.law.campbell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1200&context=fac_sw]
  • Yu, B., Savchenko, M., Shinoda, J., Diago, L., Hagiwara, I. and Savchenko, V., 2016. Producing Physical Copies of the Digital Models via Generating 2D Patterns for “Origami 3D Printer” system. Journal of Advanced Simulation in Science and Engineering, 3(1), pp.58-77. [https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jasse/3/1/3_58/_pdf]

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