Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Z Corporation 3D Printed Model of Historic Homestead to Be Featured on New Season of 'This Old House'

This week's guest post is by Julie Reece, Z Corporation's Director of Marketing Communications.

This Old House, the beloved public TV series for home renovation enthusiasts, will use a highly detailed 3D printed architectural model from Z Corp. to communicate planned improvements to a historic Bedford, Mass., homestead once owned by a prominent Revolutionary War figure, Nathaniel Page. The model will be featured in the Oct. 6 and Oct. 13 episodes, and make other appearances during the 16-episode season (check local listings or for dates and times in your area).

The 14-piece multicolor physical 3D model – 28 inches x 21 inches x 9 inches – can be assembled in two ways, depicting the Nathaniel Page Homestead before and after two additions and a thorough renovation. The model includes removable rooftops and second floor, and a fully detailed interior. See a movie of the house building.

ZPrinted model of home pre-construction
ZPrinted model of home post-construction
© May's Photography

Dan Quaile, the architect for the This Old House Bedford Project said, “The 3D model powerfully communicates the architect's vision for the finished home before we pry off the first clapboard. The designers, contractors, viewers and homeowners get a much clearer image of the project than they could through 2D plans and conversation alone.”

This Old House plans to use more of Z Corp.'s models down the road, most immediately for their next project in Barrington, RI.

The Nathaniel Page Homestead belongs to Rebecca and Joe Titlow. Joe is Z Corp.’s vice president of product management and in one of the episodes explains to host Kevin O’Connor how 3D printing works. “It was a lot of fun to bring my work home with me this time. I was thrilled that the crew was able to use the model.”


Project details:,,20496798,00.html 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Create More Future Fossils with 3D Printing

This week’s guest blog comes from Jenny E. Sabin, a Philadelphia-based architectural designer and artist, and professor of Design and Emerging Technologies in the Dept of Architecture at Cornell University.

The Greenhouse and Cabinet of Future Fossils 2011 was commissioned by the American Philosophical Society Museum, funded by Heritage Philadelphia Program, a program of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Through its dynamic material configuration, The Greenhouse & Cabinet of Future Fossils attempts to gather, digest, and disseminate information about nature while also incorporating cutting edge design and fabrication techniques to ultimately produce a greenhouse of the future.

The pavilion structure is populated with cold frame modules and futuristic ceramic and 3D printed curiosities, pre-fabricated and assembled in the Jefferson Garden, Philadelphia. Taking inspiration from the artifacts in the exhibition, Of Elephants and Roses: Encounters with French Natural History, 1790-1830, the Greenhouse encapsulates the open and dramatic spatial attributes of the outer-body in the field--defined as a 3-dimensional tapestry of organic and synthetic material layers--while simultaneously expressing the closed and steady gaze of the inner-body confined within the boundaries of the cabinet—geometrically materialized as a wall grid of cold frames and display vitrines.

Greenhouse & Cabinet of Future Fossils, view looking West, 2011, photo credit: Brent Wahl
Greenhouse & Cabinet of Future Fossils, view looking northeast, 2011, photo credit: Meagan Whetstone

The entire structure is pre-fabricated locally in Philadelphia and assembled on site. The primary rib system consists of CNC cut recyclable plastic ‘plywood’ parts and 100% recycled plastic lumber board sections serve as a cross-bracing system. The ribs and cross bracing are bolted into place for easy assembly and disassembly. The 2’ x 1’ x 1’ cold frame boxes clip into the rib structure. Each cold frame module features a colorful acrylic plastic lid. The structure is populated with live vines and each cold frame houses a variety of plants and soil. The Cabinet of Future Fossils is constructed from the same rib and cross-bracing system. Display modules with sealed polycarbonate sides clip into the rib system and contain ZCorp. 3D prints and cast porcelain forms generated from 3D printed positives.
Greenhouse & Cabinet of Future Fossils, cross rib assembly, 2011, photo credit: Jenny E. Sabin
Greenhouse & Cabinet of Future Fossils, material systems, detail, 2011, photo credit: Meagan Whetstone

The interior gallery or wall grid within the structure houses the Cabinet of Future Fossils, a modular system holding newly fabricated 3D printed and ceramic artifacts inspired by nature, complexity and generative design processes. Importantly, the ceramic forms made of porcelain clay, make references to the French porcelain objects displayed in the exhibition. Each Future Fossil is either 3D printed or cast from a plaster mold generated from an original 3D print.

The Cabinet of Future Fossils, 3D prints and Cast Ceramic Forms, 2011, photo credits: Jenny E. Sabin; Printing provided by Z Corp.

The production of ceramic form includes three distinct phases: greenware, bisque firing, and glaze firing. Greenware is the initial state of the clay form before firing. It is during this phase, that the clay may be manipulated through hand forming, throwing, casting, and now 3D printing. The actual clay modules in this project were cast from 3D printed positives made of zp150 advanced composite material. Slip casting requires liquid clay or what is commonly called ‘slip.’ Initial studies incorporate high-fire white clay for its translucency and for ease in casting. Slip casting affords rapid production of multiple parts, but with limited variation. Complexity and variation of each part is governed by the mold and the initial 3D print. In this project 2 and 3-part plaster molds were made of each 3D printed part. Slip is then poured into the mold. Once it is set, the part is released and is ready for firing.
The Greenhouse
Designer and Artist: Jenny E. Sabin
Consulting Engineer: Tristan Simmonds
Fabricator: Mikael Avery, Draft Works LLC
Design and Production Team: Mikael Avery, James Fleet Hower, Jason Jackson, Anooshey Rahim, Kathryn Rufe, Meagan Whetstone
Overall = 52’(l) x 14’(w) x 12’(h)
Cabinet structure = 20’(l) x 2’(w) x 4.5’(h)

CNC cut recyclable high density polyethylene sheets
Recycled plastic ‘lumber’ board
CNC cut polycarbonate
Laser-Cut acrylic sheets
Stainless Steel hardware
Live vines: “mooneye” – small black-eyed Susan Blossom, White and Lavender Clematis, Scarlett Runner Beans
Nylon cables

Cabinet of Future Fossils
Designer and Artist: Jenny E. Sabin
3D printing sponsorship provided by Z Corporation
Cast Porcelain Ceramic forms from Z Corp. 3D printed positives
3D printed forms in Z Corp. zp150 advanced composite material
Porcelain slip

For additional information on this exhibit, please visit:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Create more stronger, colorful 3D printed models

Today’s guest blog comes from Charles Overy of LGM Model in Colorado

The start of the academic year is, for me, a benchmark for how fast things change. I just sent my youngest kid off to kindergarten, and walking back from the school is one of those moments when you try to get perspective. At LGM we have been 3D printing architectural models since 1999, and we bought our first of 5 Z Corporation machines in 2001. Pushing the analogy this makes us high schoolers in the 3D printing community. When I look at 3D printing, and particularly the applications to Architecture, there is always a great deal of discussion about this machine or that machine. However the underlying technologies by which parts are built up have not changed that much. What have really changed recently are the materials.

I stopped by the Z Corporation booth at the SME RAPID show this year and immediately latched on to some benchmark models. Many of these were run from the same files that I had seen for years. What caught my eye this time were the materials that made colors jump, fine features finer, and edges crisper. My local rep had actually been trying to get us to move to the new zp150 powder for a while but, like most high schoolers, I thought I knew it all. I was sure we did not need to invest the time and effort into re-evaluating materials. We had become used to making primarily monochrome models, and we are good at running our bank of printers with efficiency and high yields. I got back from the show, ordered a pail of zp150 material, and got our team to run some benchmarks of our own. That quickly gave us the confidence to sell color when the call came a few weeks later for a particularly challenging job.

For the Aspen Burlingame model the designer, Oz Architecture, needed to show a proposed housing development.

Great -- that is what we do and do well.

Then there was the “but...”

The plans would require 54 buildings

On a 4' x 8' base

With trees

And grass

On a steep site

With a river

And ponds

In 3 weeks for a sales launch

And most of the buildings needed to be in COLOR.

(And did we mention that the plans aren't quite done yet and we have a tight budget.)

In the past I would have said that it could only be done in monochrome, but I stalled and we ran a test. The geometry was in Autodesk’s Revit which provides great geometry for 3D printing and which we are good at processing . For the quick test we ran one side in monochrome:

and one side in color:

The client signed off on the color.

We spent a week preparing the surface mesh for the site and revising the color scheme with Oz. We 3D printed a sample board for final approval and the approved colors (row C) were the ones sampled directly from the PDF screen colors.

In other words, the on screen to final 3d print color is very close; something that eludes many 2D print processes! It is also something that could not have happened two years ago and saved hours, if not days, of time.

After we had a composited digital model that included the terrain and buildings, CNC Machining of the terrain and 3D printing ran in parallel, almost. With our three ZPrinters the buildings took one night to run and ½ a day to post process. Machining took longer, but to be fair the terrain had to be machined from 48” x 96 “x 18” stock.

Assembly took place over 5 days actually ending on Friday. The model was delivered on Monday. No weekend work!

The customer was thrilled. Many thanks to the new zp150 material!

3D printing is a tremendously successful technology for architectural modeling. We use it every day and have provided thousands of models to clients including Fentress, Gensler and HOK, as well as regional and local firms. It provides the ability to rapidly demonstrate design intent and provides the opportunity to communicate with clarity and detail. Please feel free to contact us at LGM if we can be of any assistance as you explore 3D printing for your next project.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Create More Lasting Memories with 3D Printing

With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 upon us this weekend, let’s take a moment to pay tribute to the heroic work and sacrifice of the New York Fire Department and many, many others on that tragic day. It’s hard to believe that ten years have passed since that cool sunny Tuesday. Everybody remembers where they were that morning – I was at my local bank, and wondering why the tellers had the television on. The kids were sent home from school early that day, and we had to explain what was happening. I was shocked to find out later that one of my college buddies was on AA flight 11. All of us were touched in some way by 9/11.

To memorialize the event, a Boston-based architectural visualization firm, Munson3D, created a ‘Triptych’ which depicts lower Manhattan before 9/11, just after, and 10+ years later.

WTC Triptych printed on Z Corp ZPrinter 650

Using a variety of data sources, Munson created 3D virtual models and then printed the physical models on a ZPrinter 650 to capture fine details and realistic colors. The WTC Triptych is on display now at the New York City Fire Museum at 278 Spring Street in SoHo, Manhattan.

Damon Campagna, director of the NYC Fire Museum tells us, “It’s an amazing tool that helps visitors grasp the enormity of the event and expresses the scale of the ongoing WTC reconstruction. Everyone is in awe of the way the incredible amount of detail and accuracy of the models depicts the site through its original form, devastation and rebirth.”

WTC Triptych exhibit area in the NYC Fire Museum
More information: New York City Fire Museum Showcases Highly Detailed Ground Zero Model, Created with Z Corporation 3D Printer:  ‘WTC Triptych’ Documents the Cityscape Before, Shortly After the 9/11 Attack, and Rebuilt, All in Astonishing 3D Printed Detail.

David is also documenting the project in text, video and images on his microsite:

Where were you and what were you doing on that fateful day?