Focusing mostly on the design-architecture spectrum, this exhibition showcases diverse works by around 40 designers to pinpoint how 3D printing has culminated in “printing the world”. It is chronologically themed, guiding the visitor from the first attempts at copying to contemporary projects of an architectural scale.

The show traces the origins of 3D printing to the invention of François Willème's photo-sculpture in 1860, which attempted to duplicate 3D objects into sculpture by photographic recording. Fast forward to 1957 when Patrick J Hanratty devised a programme enabling the automation of machine tools by computer numerical control (CNC). Then in 1986, Charles Hull – widely considered the grandfather of 3D printing – set up 3D Systems after inventing stereolithography, having envisioned placing thin layers of plastic on top of each other and etching their shape using light.

Olivier Van Herpt, Sediment Vases, 2015 – 2016, Photo: Femke Rijerman
What stands out in the exhibition is the detailed, complex forms that have been made in such compelling 3D printing feats. Nendo/Oki Sato's 'Diamond Chair' (2008) – inspired by the atomic structure of diamonds, Joris Laarman's 'Adaptation Chair Gradient Copper' (2015) and Mathias Bengtsson's 'Growth Table Titanium' (2016) are just three such examples. The latter was made by Danish designer Bengtsson's computational design process, which simulated a model of bone growth through the division and differentiation of cells in order to create an intricate piece of biomimicry.

3D printing has been used to convey political views, as in Achraf Touloub's series 'Dessein Global', which consists of eights basins with 3D printed reliefs in them, including one of Tahir Square in Cairo. On an architectural scale, by contrast, is Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger's 'Grotto II, Digital Grotesque' (2017) and 'Drawn Pavilion' (2017) by the University of Tokyo Advanced Design Studies Unit (Yusuke Obuchi, Kengo Kuma, Jun Sato, Kevin Clement, Anders Rod).

Laureline Galliot, Teapot, 2012. ©Laureline Galliot / Cnap
Many of the works on display belong to the Centre Pompidou's collection, proving how the realised dream of 3D printing has resulted in collectible pieces of renowned innovation.

Mathias Bengtsson, Growth Table Titanium, 2016. Titanium, 3D printing, 81 x 140 x 66 cm
Joris Laarman, Adaptation chair, Gradient Copper Chair Edition# 5/12, 2015.
Jon Rafman, New Age Demanded (Pocked Sea Foam), 2013
Nendo (Oki Sato), Diamond chair, 2008
Gramazio Kohler Research, Smart Dynamic Casting, A robotic gliding process for complex structures, 2012-2015
Michael Hansmeyer et Benjamin Dillenburger, Grotto II, Digital Grotesque, 2017
University of Tokyo Advanced Design Studies Unit, (Yusuke Obuchi, Kengo Kuma, Jun Sato, Kevin Clement, Anders Rod) Drawn Pavilion, 2017