Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tricks, Treats, and 3D Printing for Halloween

This week’s guest blog is by Julie Reece, Z Corporation’s Director of Marketing Communications. 
3D print of my face in honor of Halloween because it's a bit creepy.
Every Halloween, we like to have a little fun here at Z Corp. There’s nothing like tricks, treats, and, yes, 3D printed models created on a Z Corp. ZPrinter to add some zest to Halloween.
Since this blog is devoted to the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) community, I thought that a pure white 3D printed model of a haunted house would do just the trick (pun intended).
Props to Z Corp. partner Russ Ogi of Rapid Technology LLC for this model.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

3D Printed Model a Money Maker for New Stockholm Arena

This week’s blog is from Julie Reece, Z Corporation’s Director of Marketing Communications.

I recently learned about how a Swedish creative studio, WE DO, 3D printed an incredibly detailed physical 3D model of an arena in Stockholm that is helping promote Stockholmsarenan until 2013, when the 30,000-seat sports and entertainment arena is expected to be completed.

What never ceases to amaze me is how every detail in the architects’ 3D digital model of the arena is precisely represented in the physical model, a cross-section that includes 7,400 highly detailed seats, each 4 mm wide. It simply could not have been created in any other way. This 1.2 meter x 1.2 meter model is so impressive, it’s the centerpiece of the Multimedia Information Center, which offers a multimedia experience of the project.

Patrik Lindberg, owner of WE DO, said, ‟Stockholmsarenan is a monument to world-class sports and entertainment, activities that can stir passion like few others. Until the arena is complete, this ZPrinted model is helping generate the excitement for the arena, helping the owner and operator rent the space, sell seat licenses, plan events and entice sponsors – in other words, make the business a success. The architect and prospective patrons are blown away by the piece.”

How the model was made
Lindberg describes how the model was created. ‟We chose to ZPrint this model on our ZPrinter® 450 because it creates a model faster, more affordably and more accurately than handcrafting. We worked toward a tight deadline and printed different sections of the model nonstop for two weeks. It would have taken us at least three times more time and money to make this by hand, and the result would have been far less detailed. In other words, ZPrinting made this project a success.”

It turns out that Lindberg is a trained industrial designer, and uses ZPrinting constantly to create product prototypes for design clients and models for architects. Although Stockholmsarenan was ZPrinted in classic architectural white, his clients are increasingly asking for color. ‟Companies are becoming enlightened on the possibilities for rapid prototyping. Color, in addition to speed and cost, are why we selected the ZPrinter.”

Additional information on Stockholmsarenan.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

'Create more' Nature, Design, and Fabrication with 3D Printing

Today’s guest blog is from Daniela Bertol of space ink.

Geometry is present in the world of nature, at any scale. Almost every form found in our physical environment —waves, clouds, galaxies, cells, bird wings, leaves, seashells— follows geometrical configurations, either resembling the familiar shapes of our elementary school geometry or more complex fractals and recursions. The understanding of the geometric rules and forms underlying natural forms can hold lessons for the design of the manmade world, by capturing the structural efficiency of the form itself and leading to the proper choice of materials.

In my latest book, Form Geometry Structure From Nature to Design, I explored many familiar forms found in nature. I tried to understand the geometry behind each form and recreated it as a digital model from the algorithmic rules the form is based on.

Of the many shapes explored, I found the nautilus shell one of the most intriguing and valuable for design applications. The nautilus has a bone structure externalized in a shell, which is divided into chambers and delineated by septa. The nautilus grows and creates a new larger camera, where it moves its body and seals the previous smaller chamber with a septum. The shell shape is based on a logarithmic spiral, a geometrical configuration which remains unchanged at any scale of growth. Inspired by the nautilus for the design of a large span structure, I recreated a parametric associative model of the shell in Bentley GenerativeComponents. The design model followed the nautilus morphological characteristics: the septa represent the main structural system connected by a secondary system of ribs.

The digital model, although visually and formally complex, was fairly easy to generate thanks to the associative parametric software, which allowed many explorations to finally achieve the appropriate proportion and thickness of the structural ribs. Renderings of the nautilus models were chosen for the book cover, as one of the forms which best explains the main theme: how the geometry found in forms from nature can provide design models.

The publisher was also interested in including in the cover photos from a 3D printed physical model. The fabrication of the nautilus model resulted instead into a quite laborious process: the level of detail caused several 3D printers to fail in their fabrication effort. Finally the digital model file was sent to Z Corporation and successfully printed with the ZPrinter 650, which was able to produce a high level of detail.

Seeing and touching the 3D printed model of the nautilus represents a demonstration of the theme of the book and closes a loop from the physical to the digital world, as interpreted by a designer: from nature to geometry to design and finally back to objects.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Create More Communication at the Construction Site with 3D Printing

I recently returned from the Windy City -- although there was more rain last week than wind, but then again, Chicago’s nickname has nothing to do with the weather* -- where our ZPartner arranged a number of meetings for us with architects, engineers, and general contractors.  While 3D printing is well understood by architects, and some engineers, as a valuable tool for innovation and communication, the construction community is just learning about the benefits of 3D printed physical models.

For example, the Construction Industry Institute (CII) has an annual conference.  This past July, the event was held in Chicago, and the event organizers invited Z Corp. and our local ZPartner, MasterGraphics, to exhibit our ZPrinter and ZPrints as one of several ‘Breakthrough Technologies.’

During the 2-day event, I was surprised at the number of industry professionals who were not aware of 3D printing as an available technology.  Most were seeing a ZPrinter for the first time and could not believe that such a tool existed outside of science fiction.  Many were impressed with the models on display, and some went away thinking about how their firms could utilize 3D prints.

Two of these firms invited us in last week to talk about 3D printing applications for construction.  We are seeing some firms in North America using color ZPrints for 4D construction to depict project timing sequences.  In Japan, there are full-service AEC companies who routinely print 3D models with ZPrinter 650s.  Other AEC firms print models to communicate complicated designs more clearly at the construction site, using standard color codes for concrete vs. steel vs. electrical vs. MEP systems.  This can be more practical, and cost-effective, than gathering the contractors around a BIM model on a computer screen. 

If you work for a general contractor, and your lead architect delivers an electronic model along with the CD set, have you considered printing 3D models?  We would love to hear the pros and cons of this approach, and how it might reduce RFIs.

Gabriel Dadi, E.I.T. LEED AP, Graduate Assistant/PhD Candidate, Construction Engineering and Project Management, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Kentucky sent me this link summarizing the CII conference -

Breakthrough Technologies at the CII Annual Conference

*I highly recommend the historical novel The Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen for a fascinating read about the late 19th century design, engineering and construction of the World’s Fair “white city” coupled with the frantic search for a serial killer who preyed upon young women who were moving to Chicago to work at the Fair.  You will learn about the first Ferris Wheel and the origin of the moniker “windy city.”