Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Timber House

Today's guest post is by Mark Cook, Z Corp. VP of Research and Development.

One of the things I love about working here at Z Corp. is when I am able to help someone discover the unique capabilities of 3D printing, specifically how ZPrinting can help solve real problems.

A few weeks back I ran into an old friend, during a wine tasting event at a local vineyard, who I had not seen in many years. As is often the case during these chance meetings, we both talked at length about what we had been up to over the past few years. The last time I saw him I must have just recently started my career at Z Corp. because he seemed to remember me telling him something about models. My friend is a local architect specializing in high-end custom homes.

Like many individual or small firm architects that have been around for a while, this guy hand draws most of his concepts and many of his detail drawings. His early design decision process involves sketching concepts, reviewing them with the customer, and re-sketching until they both agree on what is to be built. This is time consuming and at the end to the day there is always a risk that the sketch did not accurately represent the final building. How close the end product is to what is expected depends upon the quality of the sketches, as well as the customers’ ability to interpret them or to visualize the final building from the sketches.

Recently some of the younger architects working with my friend started using 3D software to turn early concepts into more realistic renderings in an effort to better communicate and make decisions at this early design stage. As luck would have it, they were in the midst of a project with a client where the husband was in the building profession and, because of his experience, could easily interpret drawings. The husband and wife were in disagreement about a particular detail - whether an entire wall in their new great room should be made of stone or just the section above the fireplace. The architect had rendered the room and shown them the renderings on the computer screen, but a decision had yet to be made.

I offered to take the 3D data from their software and print a model for their next client meeting on the following Thursday. I was able to export the 3D data, including texture map images for the wood, stone and other surfaces. I delivered the completed ¼” scale model in full color on Wednesday afternoon. My friend was amazed, his client was amazed, and I was very happy to help. The husband was finally convinced that his wife was right. Through a chance meeting at a local vineyard, I was able to help a friend solve a real issue by improving communication using Z Corp. 3D printing technology.

Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to see a sampling of ZPrinted architectural models.