With the invention of movable type Johannes Gutenberg revolutionized how books were made in the 15th century, and now in the 21st century book publishing is again changing dramatically. We used to think of books as ink on paper between two covers. Increasingly books are just digital data viewed on a screen. My Gutenberg series of 3D printed books deals with the evolution of books and how knowledge may be distributed in the future.

Books are evolving into new formats. Some people find that digital books are undesirable, others enthusiastically embrace them. As they transform into digital media someday they may become unreadable when the compatible devices are no longer available; similar to how we can no longer access the data from a floppy disk.

The content of these 3D printed books cannot be accessed – it is sealed inside the PLA resin binding. You must destroy the book to read the book. These books require the viewer/reader to trust the artist – is the content really in there or not? You can see something is inside but you don’t know if it is really as the artist claims. Much of the artwork which is bought and sold requires trust in the artist and the dealer, and these books expand upon that leap of faith.

These 3D printed books contain various kinds of “content” from digital prints and/or a USB flash drive to cameras holding images encased in a sealed one-piece 3D printed book-shaped PLA resin sculpture. Some of the books are presented in a 3D printed slipcase or box.

The books are designed using computer aided design (CAD) software and printed using a Makerbot Replicator 2 printer using PLA resin and contain archival digitally printed photographs or other printed materials and some contain USB flash drives. The Replicator 2 uses additive manufacturing technology. The raw material is a bio-plastic polylactic acid resin filament much like a heavy fishing line. It feeds into a robotically controlled extruder which builds up layers of a fine filament in a pattern designed by the artist using a CAD program and then interpreted by the printer’s software.