Insun Kwon Printed Sculpture

Sculpting the future of 3D printing at Clemson University

  • Written by Meaghan McBee
    Sep 6, 2017

There’s a push to establish a 3D printing course at Clemson University, and the artist behind it all has some impressive examples of what dedication to design and quality can bring to the table.

A decorated background in design

Insun Kwon understands the value of every step in the digital art and 3D printing process. A Clemson University professor, Insun has a Masters Degree in Animation with several years of experience teaching undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. students. His background in sculpting has blended into the digital space both in the classroom and as a hobby, allowing Insun to create some truly remarkable 3D designs—like a Predator sculpture that he debuted at this year’s Construct3D conference.

Insun Kwon Predator Print
Insun's Predator print
Insun Kwon Predator Face
A closeup of the Predator

With 10 years of traditional sculpting experience igniting his passion for the arts, Professor Kwon switched to digital modeling when he moved to the United States. There was an instant connection to the process that Insun knew he wanted to share with his students.

I remember the excitement that I had when I was able to create my first 3D print out of my digital model.

He says, “It felt so different compared to creating a digital image. I wanted my students to have the same excitement by being able to create a physical model out of their own CG work.” Insun aims for every student to see their projects through from start to finish, as he finds that they’re more willing to produce better work when driven to complete a design. The interest he’s seen from students highlights a need for a 3D printing class at Clemson, which Professor Kwon hopes to offer soon.

Insun Kwon Predator 3D print
Intricate details on Insun’s Predator sculpture

Although Insun used to focus solely on creating beautiful images out of 3D models, now he concentrates on creating exciting 3D prints with intricacies that prove his capabilities as a designer. For that, he needs a reliable printer with consistent quality.

Bringing 3D models to life with Ultimaker

When Insun was deciding how to produce his detailed digital models, he found resin printers to be an expensive option due to the price of materials. By choosing Ultimaker he is now able to print out high-quality models using inexpensive materials, saving costs and time. He began his 3D printing endeavors with an Ultimaker 2+ and graduated to an Ultimaker 3, which prints 24 hours a day when he’s working on a complicated model.

Ultimaker is easy to use and provides great quality with low-priced materials. I think this works perfectly for educational purposes.

Professor Kwon has tried a variety of materials—ABS, PLA, and flexible filaments like TPU—though he mostly opts for PLA as he finds it works best for his needs. While he uses his Ultimaker 3 for personal projects, like a striking 3D printed model of a velociraptor perched on a Tyrannosaurus skull, Insun says that Clemson students are able to use the school’s printers as needed.

Insun Kwon Dinosaur 3D Print
A 3D printed dinosaur model designed and created by Insun

Multiple departments at Clemson currently integrate 3D printing into their curriculum, from Art to Architecture and Digital Production. Although there is not yet a formal class on 3D printing, Professor Kwon enjoys sharing his personal printing experiences with students and fellow faculty members. Bringing models to a “print-ready” stage is a very important concept to Insun when it comes to teaching, as is helping students build up their portfolios with design work.

Insun Kwon Velociraptor
A closeup of Insun’s 3D printed dinosaur

From Clemson graduate to career-ready

Easy access to printers and fast print times are essential for educational settings, says Professor Kwon. He hopes to teach Clemson students that it takes time and effort to produce quality models, highlighting the example of his last print—which required about 700 hours for about 100 different parts.

“I believe that understanding how to work with 3D printing will give students more opportunities for their future careers,” Insun says. Looking ahead, it’s apparent to him that more industries are turning to 3D printing as a money and time-saving option, which is crucial knowledge for young minds graduating into the workforce.

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