Wednesday, August 18, 2010

MIT Building Model

Folks who follow the 3D printing industry know that Z Corp. was founded in 1995 based on technology that originated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). So, when it came time to produce a new brochure for the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industry, it was no mere coincidence that the MIT building entrance at 77 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge, MA, USA would grace the cover.

Some have asked where the model came from. Here is the answer …

The MIT lobby at 77 Mass Ave. was designed in Rhino by Marcel Botha from the MIT Architecture department. He provided the digital model to Radlab Inc. [founded by two former Botha colleagues] to print on their ZPrinter. The Rhino digital model was originally made up of both polysurfaces and surfaces. Radlab revised it so that the entire model was closed polysurfaces suitable for 3D printing. In the underside of the dome, Radlab exposed some of the structural details that were initially hidden behind the ceiling to decrease the overall volume and weight of the dome. Given the number of rooms and balconies in the model, Radlab also made sure that all cavities had doorways and openings for excess powder to escape later during the depowdering stage.

The model was printed and finished, then presented as a gift to Dr. Robert Brown, President of Boston University and former MIT provost. This scaled replica of the neoclassical MIT lobby captures the smallest details of the domed entryway, including the Ionic columns, interior balconies, and stoic podiums.

Visitors who enter the Z Corp. lobby at 32 Second Ave. in Burlington, MA, USA (not quite as impressive as 77 Mass. Ave.) will see the MIT model perched on the reception desk.