The History of Creative Metallurgy

The aesthetic discipline of Creative Metallurgy is a response to the unremitting concentration on form and function that additive manufacturing, and especially 3D printing in metal, currently takes.

The term, as applied in this context, was invented by Ian Falconer in 2014 to describe the surface effects, colours and textures that can be made visible through the use of 3D printing in metals, either directly or via post-printing surface treatments. To this point very few variations in ‘finish’ have been available to compliment the extrordinary range of forms and every growing number of functions that can be produced by metal-capable printers. We hope to change that through the cost effective production of novel alloys and transmetallics specifically designed for 21st century low volume manufacturing and the innovative designers who use it.

The inspiration for a semi-empirical, experimental approach to the aesthetics of metal surfaces was Josiah Wedgwood’s search for the perfect white glaze to coat his earthenware ceramics, in order to mimic the transluscence of Chinese porcelain in the early 18th century. Even though his aims were aesthetic and thoroughly commercial rather than scientific and altruistic, Wedgwood’s long and rigorous experimentation provided the nascent industry of ceramics with the technological bootstraps that it needed to change the world, a world whose health now benefits from the global use of low cost sanitary wares and cheap cookwares. Without cheap, hard, easy to clean surfaces the world would be a very different place.

We don’t know what the aesthetic exploration of 3D printing in metals will bring, but we hope, at the very least to brighten the world and that the pursuit of Creative Metallurgy will hold back the tide of ‘grey’ products dominated by form and function, with little or no thought of finish.