Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Z Corp’s Dedicated Channel Partners

This week's guest blog is by John Kawola, Z Corporation Chief Executive Officer.

We just wrapped up our three regional 2011 ZNet channel partner conferences in Denver, Istanbul and Phuket. We had a fantastic turnout. First I want to thank the many people involved in organizing and pulling off all of the meetings conducted in the past six weeks. They required a lot of work and travel, but it was clearly well worth it. Equally important, I want to extend a special word of thanks to our partners.

I am often reminded when I attend these events of the importance of the relationship with our channel partners and customers. While we often think about Z Corp in terms of our technology and what we can do for our customers, none of this would work without the dedication of our dealers and distributors worldwide and the personal relationships we have built with them.

Many of our partners are small business owners. They have invested their own time and money into building something truly great. The fact that they carry the Z Corp product line, demonstrates their commitment and investment in us. We know it’s our job to return that favor by delivering a strong lineup of products, providing first-class support and training and, perhaps most importantly, being their partner.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

AUDI Urban Future - New York Project 2011, MARC FORNES & THEVERYMANY™: 3D prints by Z Corporation

Today’s guest blog comes from Marc Fornes & THEVERYMANY™

“Beyond Likely” is a case study within Manhattan / NYC based on Jurgen Mayer’s Urban Future Award 2010 which was a vision of mobility as an augmented experience of motion resulting in an understanding of the city as constant flow of information. Flows that are physical such as pedestrian and cars or digital information as bits or pixels require as a premise a substrate based on continuity - from an infrastructure scale (network,...) down to every single bits of a habitation scale (surfaces,...)

Although they have the best intentions, visions or holistic understandings from a single architect have too often generated urban failures/drama when translated directly into urban planning or regulations, resulting in many new cities or projects that are witnesses of such holistic visions.

While on another hand we strongly believe in a certain form of organic growth, a more bottom up system where local decision making can hopefully shape a self balanced higher order and urban global coherency. Such processes are based on simulation and monitoring: test, trial, failures, evaluation, re-run... the basic principle of evolution. Yet such a principle needs time - a luxury that too often the design world can't afford.

Design implies the responsibility of a proposal. Therefore within such a short charrette “Beyond Likely” is a proposal for a taxonomy on the theme of continuity – an investigation of the Manhattan urban block and its morphology. These are not a catalogue of choices but a history / trail of a variation on a theme.

The study on the block morphology is investigated as a continuous hull – an empty shell (as opposed to a sum of 3D pixels) resulting from the development of custom computational protocols of precise indetermination: - precise because protocols are sets of geometrical build up, transformation, algorithmic relationships, all hierarchied - indetermination since - although it is the result of very deterministic steps - the entire routine must be run in order to be able to evaluate as inherent resonance (due to the high number of steps).

3D rapid prototyping models are extremely useful physical tests of any iteration – allowing the display of complex topological relationships beyond possible mental representation in potentially the blink of an eye and aid to push further the development of rules.

Central Park West came as a logical placement for such local morphological investigation as a long alignment of 49 city blocks at the limit of the park - some sort of long "lisiere" - an edge as the best spot to observe any microcosms, a linear fringe of singular possibilities.
  • Continuity as organic habitation units - smoothed surfaces at the difference of edges increase the perception of space
  • Continuity through density/cluster
  • Continuity of voids and outside space - public or private
  • Continuity through facade and roof becoming hard to differentiate which one is which
  • Continuity of flows through ramping threshold infrastructure (represented as pixilated lines)
  • Continuity through gradients of colors enabled by Z Corporation 3D printers.
Although the sequence has been created block by block there is a resultant continuity of mismatch. One section does not exactly match the next one yet they follow similar generative principles which results in the sum of local breakage and imperfection of the whole at local moments - rather than global failures – with surprises as urban quality...

Misfit as a new form of urban coherency? For sure a very different & colorful universe still to be developed…

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

3D Printing in AEC: Gaining Client Approvals

Have you ever met with a client to review your design in hopes of gaining their swift approval, only to have the client request more changes?  You’ve probably had this experience.  You walk away from the meeting feeling as though you’ve taken two steps backwards on the project.

Would it have been helpful if you could have shown your client a series of physical 3D models depicting design iterations to steer the client toward your recommended design? Probably, because perhaps your client didn’t completely understand your 2D renderings or BIM walk-through, resulting in ineffective communication.

You might think that building physical 3D models is cost-prohibitive and takes too long to complete. That’s certainly true of traditional model-making methods which are normally reserved for final presentation models.  In fact, by the time handcrafted models are completed, you have probably further modified your design.

What if you could create physical 3D models in a few hours and very affordably? How about several models at once – of either the same design or different designs – all in the same amount of time and for the same cost? Imagine those models could be white or multicolored or both.

Architects worldwide, of all sizes - from under 10 employees to more than 1,000 people - improve their design processes and break through project bottlenecks using 3D printing early and often.

Take a look at the six massing models below. The material cost, assuming you owned your own ZPrinter, is less than $150. The actual printing time is under 3 hours, and the turnaround time to have all six pieces in your hands is less than 5 hours. That means that you can bring your design iterations to life in less than a day! Your clients will be impressed, and you’ll find that your meetings move along more smoothly.

Here are links to two Webcasts in which architects of varying sizes and specialties describe firsthand how they use 3D printing, and the results they see after bringing the technology into their firms:

Andrew Chary Architect, PLLCHow to Win Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) Business with 3D Printing 

OBMI International: Bringing the Third Dimension to Architectural Design  

If you haven’t introduced 3D printing into your firm, why not?  If you have, what are the benefits you’ve noticed?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Smart Geometry Redux

This year, the SmartGeometry conference was held from 28 March to 2 April at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture Center for Information Technology and Architecture (CITA) in Copenhagen, Denmark. Z Corp was a Silver sponsor for this event which draws the best and brightest minds in the industry worldwide.

The event was divided into distinct sections – a four-day Workshop where ten separate group clusters explored specific design challenges; a Talkshop day where Workshop participants reflected on their projects with colleagues; and a Symposium day where invited keynote speakers showcased their latest initiatives. With ZPrinter 650 and personnel support from Z Corp’s local partner, 3D Print Nordic, and also using the existing ZPrinter 450 at CITA, workshop participants used 3D printing to test their design concepts.

Here is a summary of one Workshop taken from the Archinect blogIn the far corner of the space, students were building and testing spaces for sound. “Responsive Acoustic Surfacing” focused on the parameterization of hyperbolic paraboloid geometry as used by pre-digital parametric architect Antoni Gaudi and it explored the sonic potential of this geometry. The participants investigated sound scattering and a 1:1 wall was designed and built using this geometry. The design of the wall was based on feedback from the physical acoustic testing of 3D printed 1:10 scale models using a scale reverberation chamber.

The 3D printed prototypes were created on the ZPrinters and measured 300mm in diameter. The photos below show two different textures for these acoustic surfaces.

Learn more details about this particular Workshop.

See a summary of several Workshops. 

3D printing continues to have a major presence at leading AEC events like SmartGeometry and it comes as no surprise that many of the SG participants work for firms who own their own 3D printer. If you or a colleague attended SG2011, I would love to get your feedback on this year’s event, especially as compared to Barcelona (2010), San Francisco (2009), and prior years.