Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Create More...Ideas: Oversized Architectural 3D Prints

In last week's blog by Z Corp. CEO, John Kawola, he outlined Z Corp.'s "Create more" vision for continuous innovation.  Our next few blogs will highlight real examples of our how customers are creating more with 3D printing.  Today’s guest blog and customer example comes from David Munson of Munson3D.

There is an inevitable conflict that arises from time to time when creating architectural models. We typically work out a desired scale and model extents to get a final model size. The scale is driven by the level of detail desired. The extents may include contextual buildings beyond the property line needed to tell the story of its design.

When the size of the model is beyond the machine's build chamber, some division of the model is in order. For many models this can be accomplished in Z-Edit Pro. Users of Revit and/or 3ds Max Design may prefer creating 3D printer files in their native programs. For complicated 3D splitting, which may be needed to hide seams in more sophisticated model designs, I believe that Max Design is the way to go.

In Revit, Section Boxes work really well. They break the model into geometrically clean sections quickly and easily. However, they are limited to boxes, so more complicated divisions are not supported. But if one is dividing into simple rectangular pieces, using Revit is much easier than using Max Design where one may need to invoke the dreaded Boolean command.

For a more complicated scenario let me take you through a New York City School project I recently completed. Working from the Max Design model used to create the renderings, we settled on the scale and model extents. Note that we are making a traditionally large architectural model using 3D printing techniques along with some traditional made elements.

Next, the Max Design model is divided into .02” thick slice planes. The model goes through a phase of designing for 3D printing. Even the elements that are not going to be 3D printed should be modeled. Then you can communicate with your client the model design with visual precision before physical production starts and have templates for the hand or laser cutting of foam core, plastic, etc. along with the precise files for 3D printing which will fit together like a sophisticated, custom architectural puzzle. .

For this model I printed about 20 parts. It is more important to slice where you can hide the seams than to fill out a build chamber. The sidewalk in the front is on an incline and has curb cuts, etc. so I decided to 3D print it. I made a notch on the building facade where the sidewalk connects so this was a complex 3D connection. Thanks to the precision of 3D printing, it came out great!

Fitting them all together, even the non-3D printed parts, was made easy by computer modeling all the pieces first. The facades are 0.1” thick with a structural grid behind them to prevent warping.

Even the cars and people were 3D printed!

The texture mapping created for the renderings is actually printed in the final, physical model!

For examples of how AEC customers create more with 3D printing, visit:

See the now famous viral 3D printing YouTube video

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Create more: Z Corporation's Vision for Continuous Innovation

Today's guest blog is from John Kawola, CEO, Z Corporation.

Some people punch the clock. Others live to make a mark.

If you get out of bed in the morning to push the boundaries of the possible, Z Corporation can help you get there. We exist because you are an inspired designer or engineer who wants to create more. More ideas, more communication and more innovation.

We believe that invention is exhilarating. You discover ideas in your imagination, the natural world or the built world. You transform ideas into digital concepts. Then you push astonishing creations into the physical world where they make a difference.

Sometimes, however, business constraints hold you back. Like limited time and budgets; the complex dynamics of working with colleagues and external partners; and the technical limitations of design tools.

That’s where we come in. We exist not to get around those realities, but to help you use them to your advantage.

We believe that innovation should drive every phase of design, from concept through data capture, sketching, modeling, detail design, analysis, manufacturing and inspection. We make that possible with 3D printing and 3D scanning solutions for high-volume, low-cost use by virtually anyone, so that you can innovate early and often throughout the design process.

And that puts you in a powerful position to synch your goals with those of your organization. You’ll explore more ideas while saving money. You’ll present iterations in a way that encourages group development. You’ll inspire prospective customers. You’ll get the green light to make your designs real. And you’ll see your designs succeed in the marketplace.

Like you, we live to stretch the boundaries of what is possible. We work with the most productive designers and engineers to create solutions that streamline manufacturing, and we lead the way in emerging applications in architecture, education, entertainment, healthcare, art, historic preservation and geographic information systems. No other vendor enables so many applications.

Within each industry, we’re bringing the value of our solutions to the entire organization. We enable management teams to drive investments; marketing teams to generate demand; sales teams to secure orders; and teachers to develop the innovators of tomorrow.

More ideas.

More communication.

More innovation.

Z Corporation. Create more.

Read our complete Vision Paper.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Revit Technology Conference - Redux

The Revit Technology Conference (RTC) held its inaugural event in North America at the Hyatt Huntington Beach, California on June 23 - 25, 2011.

Z Corporation was represented by one of its authorized channel partners in Southern California, 3D Rapid Prototyping, Inc. (3DRP). 3DRP, a sponsor for RTC, brought their ZPrinter 450 demo system and interacted with the Revit users throughout the 3-day event.

“Bill Craig and his team from 3D Rapid Prototyping were terrific!” said Phil Read, the lead organizer for RTC North America. “3DRP took the time to explain 3D printing technology to the Revit users, whether or not there was a sales opportunity – their collective knowledge of the ZPrinter technology for AEC applications was impressive.”

At the show, 3DRP printed some Revit models from files that random attendees had given them.

The image below shows a ZPrint of a home designed in Revit:

The elephant and cow below were designed in Revit to show that it is possible to do complex shapes. The designer was Marcello Sgambelluri of John Martin Assoc.

Many thanks to our friends at 3DRP for sponsoring the RTC event and educating the Revit users about ZPrinting.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Fun, Innovative 3D Printing Company

Today’s guest blog is by Julie Reece, Z Corp’s Director of Marketing Communications.

I generally prefer to purchase products from companies whose employees really, I mean REALLY, love what they do. They’re passionate about their designs. The lines between their work day and home lives are blurred because what they do for work is also their hobby. They’re fun, creative and brilliant. Because of these attributes, they produce better designs. You know the types of companies I’m talking about…Google, Apple, Foster+Partners, Converse, Cisco, and yes, Z Corporation.

This summer, each Z Corp department is taking turns hosting a themed lunch of their own choosing for the rest of the company. Last Thursday it was our executive team’s turn. They hosted a Casino event in our first floor café and outside on our lawn under the watchful eye of our company mascot, a pink flamingo named Zeke.

Maybe it was partly because our home team heroes, the Boston Bruins ice hockey team, had just won the coveted Stanley Cup, or maybe it was because it was a gorgeous summer day, or perhaps it was the offer of great prizes from several of our customers that the air was electric. My colleagues yelled with glee as their buckets of fake money filled.

I was the designated photographer for the event, and was able to step back and get a different perspective than my colleagues. Through my lens, I saw a Z Corp vice president in a tuxedo jacket, Bermuda shorts and flip flops.

I saw our CEO, John Kawola, manning the roulette table and good naturedly chiding players for taking too long to place their bets.

I saw employees from all departments and all levels playing together, talking, laughing and building team and company spirit.

But, I think the thing that struck me most was when I finally noticed that the poker chips we were using were actually 3D printed in-house at Z Corp on a ZPrinter. Take a look at the photos below. How cool is that?! There were hundreds of them being thrown in buckets and on tables.

Oh, and the Bruins? Well, we didn’t forget about them either. One of our application engineers who lives, eats, and breathes the Boston Bruins quickly created this 3D print that morning, in time to display it during our Casino celebration.

This is the type of creative, passionate, innovative company I like to do business with, and I’m happy to say, lucky enough to work for.

New 3D Printing in AEC Mini-Webcast Series:
Part I:  The Client Meeting
Part II:  Building Team Collaboration