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An Interview with Austin Peppel, Artist, Maker, Designer
May 28, 2015
At Castle Ink, we are always looking for interesting stories about independent designers. A few weeks back, we had the opportunity to speak with Jenan Kazim, the inventor of the KAZBrella, which is a new, and perhaps better way to approach the use of an umbrella. Earlier this week we read about another independent designer, Austin Peppel, who has created a design for a musician’s bow that can be used with violins and violas. As it turns out, the bow represents just one of many of his many designs which can all be seen on his website, austinpeppel.com. We reached out to him and he was gracious enough to give us some time for an interview. The interview was conducted via email, and the transcript is here below..
1) How long have you been doing this type of designing and what inspired you to begin?
2) What types of academic courses have you had that apply to either design or 3D printing or both?
With that knowledge I took an introduction to digital Fabrication class taught by Ryan Hoover, where I was given a brief encounter with many of the machines encompassing Digital Fabrication. From there I took an International Digital-Fabrication class taught by Ryan Hoover and Annette Couwenberg, where I had a chance to really dig-in and work on a project of my own, which I'm still working on.
The latest class I took was an Experimental Digital-Fabrication Class taught by Ryan Hoover. It's generally easy to make a laser cutter cut things, or get a 3d printer to print things, so that class delved into scripting and experimental low level control of machines in an attempt to see what we can get them to do that they weren't designed to do. That's the class where I started delving into PID control systems, and creating my own filaments. Ryan told us the first day of that class that we may run into a problem that he doesn't know how to solve and that we may have to figure it out on our own and with the class. That built a community around experimenting and learning that has been vital for all my work during and after. While taking these classes, I taught myself a little SolidWorks, Monolith, and a couple of other programs.
I've also taken multiple classes in architecture and product design, as well as a few engineering classes at Johns Hopkins, and I was a teaching intern for a Grad design class. During the last year I was a Tech in the Digital Fabrication Studio at MICA, and figuring out how and why students break printers and other machines, is very informative for my personal work, and has kept me on my toes.
3) From your website it appears that you keep yourself very busy with the design, to say the least. Is the musician's bow representative of the farthest you have gotten or the most recognized? Which other designs are you most proud of?
I'm also proud of the material extruder I'm working on. I've been using CFD software to help inform a nozzle that I'm designing. It will be used to mix multiple materials, and create mixed plastics. Polycapralactone and sugar, or bone, Polypropylene and coffee grounds; It will be open source and useful within the realm of bioprinting, as well as fun exploration and experimentation. There's another project I'm excited about as well, though I don't know if I'm allowed to talk about it yet.
4) What gave you the idea for the musician's bow in the first place? Are you a musician yourself?
5) What type of printer and what type of filament did you use to create the bow?
6) How long does it take to print one?
7) How scalable is your bow design? Could it be shortened to accommodate a shorter violin and vice-versa?
I'm making a printer with a 920mm x1220mm x 920mm build area, and plan on printing whole bows, and making parametric controls for scaling and custom user preference. Since I've been printing in pieces, I already know what changes would need to be made for the newest design to be cut into smaller pieces that fit a 150mm x 150mm bed. I've always been a fan of structural art, and I want to spend the time to design it well.
8) What other materials do you use in the bow besides the filament? How easily are they sourced?
9) In the article on 3DPrint.com, it says that you a senior. Will you be graduating this year? What are your plans for after graduation?
10) What do you think schools and colleges/universities can do to foster student experimentation with 3D printing, design, and for students?