Reading the Fine Print – How Material Science Informs Both Art and Manufacture


Damien Leech

Research Associate

Centre for Fine Print Research

University of the West of England (UK)

#51 Under the Microscope | Reading the Fine PrintPranoti | Damien
00:00 / 04:59
#52 Under the Microscope | Reading the Fine PrintPranoti | Damien
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Please explain your research in simple words

I aim to help resurrect and modernise forgotten 19th century print practices with unique advantages and explore the wider applications of print technology, such as 3D printing and screen-printing, in everything from sensor fabrication to artist use.

Sunday - What I do, who I am and other existential questions
Monday - 3D Printing Crash Course
Tuesday - Weirder Additive Manufacture (Ceramics, Food, Metals)
Wednesday - Colour in Nature
Thursday - Interdisciplinary Research - Art and Physics?
Friday - Online/Remote Working for the Early Career Researcher
Saturday - The Ultimate Work Playlist

What can the followers expect in your curation week?

How did you end up in your current research field?

An off-the-cuff application to a job I thought I had absolutely no prior skills to contribute with. I applied entirely because I thought it sounded fascinating and turns out my supervisor was a 'secret' physicist as well!

Working with print technology requires not only an understanding of the process itself, but the materials that used as well. Everything from colour to flow properties is effectively driven by the micro/nano-scale and so building the problem from the 'bottom-up' can help with identifying both the causes of issues and their solutions.

How and where does your research fall in the domain of materials/nano science?

Which research project are you most proud of and could you explain it in simple words in the section we call #InOtherwords?

I recently tracked the changing colour tones in a process called Woodburytype. This involves layering translucent films of pigmented gelatin on top of one another, in order to create a complex full-colour image. It's one of those 'should be simple' problems that quickly spiralled outwards and became very tough to reign in, however these issues basically boil down to how do you model the optics and colour of something that is incredibly transparent?

(Damien's answer is very interesting, listen to the extended podcast to find out.)

If you teach, which are the courses would you like to mention?

If you had 3 wishes to improve your research experience, what would you ask for (not promising anything here!)?

- Further support for interdisciplinary ideas and                       approaches

- Further support for postdocs/RAs (academic limbo can     be strange!)

- More collaboration overall!

Hopefully seeing the fruits of a few projects I've been juggling for a while. And hearing back from a few funding opportunities so I can stop having those sudden 'Did I remember to include X?' moments.

What are you most looking forward to in the next 3 months?

Which challenges/questions is the nano/materials science field facing at the moment?

Print processes are a fascinating example of precise manufacture, however they rely heavily on the use of particular material and ink formulations. Much of print research in recent years, especially since the advent of additive manufacture, has taken the approach of tuning the printing apparatus to accept a broader range of materials - usually at the expense of printing resolution. Hopefully the coming years will help us find clever approaches to the happy medium between these two competing effects.