In this 3D Printshow article, we focus on Inition, who were showing a world first proof of concept that could change the way architects design buildings, through a combination of AR and 3D printing.
The incredibly successful 3D Printshow ended on Sunday October 21st and over 4000 people attended an event that is set to become an annual occasion for 3D printing enthusiasts. The buzz reminded me of the almost tangible excitement surrounding the 3D TV conferences of 2010.
The media is full of reports about 3D printing right now – how it will benefit third world economies, it is more hype than substance? and whether an entire new copyright protection structure will need to be established in a new ‘print objects on-demand’ era.
3D creative technology Inition were there with a range of plinths, housing a very diverse selection of examples of how 3D printing could be deployed. Right in the middle was a life-sized chocolate brain, modelled from MRI scan data of the company’s co-founder Andy Millns. The sliced data was converted into a file suitable for 3D printing and a silicone mould was produced for the melted chocolate to form a sugary replica of Millns' grey matter. Inition had done something similar in the summer, albeit on a smaller scale, for an 'Instructables' competition they entered and won.
Next to that, was a plinth supporting several 3D printed tree models. It was part of a 400 tree sculpture called ‘People Wood’ commissioned by Hackney Council. What was unique was that every tree was bespoke to an individual person. A website invited local residents to answer a series of questions about their sense of community in the area. Each response influenced different design features of each tree, from the thickness of the trunk, to the number of branches.
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During our interview, Rob Jeffries, 3D Printing Consultant at Inition, pointed out that it would be interesting to repeat the exercise next year to gage how the community had changed. The 400 tree wood is currently suspended from a celiling of Redmond Community Centre at Woodbury Down, Hackey, as a permanent installation.
From the worthy to the seriously useful (and possibly highly commercial) was a proof of concept that augmented data, graphics and interactive animations onto a 3D printed model of a real building.
Inition worked with global architects Zaha Hadid to recreate the Eli & Edy Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University (due to be opened in November). The model was positioned on a marker mat, and through an iPAD, people could see the building brought to life. We saw an example of a windflow animation, an environment layer (where the building was suddenly surrounded by trees, people and cars), internal viewpoints (of rooms, plumbing layouts for example) and, the most impressive for me, a map, where moving back, you could see where the building was located geographically.
Shaun Farrell, Practice BIM Manager, Zaha Hadid Architects, was optimistic about the potential benefits: “AR in the broadest sense has already had a great impact in the build environment with regards to generating easy to understand overlays of digital information and graphics onto the real world. This transfers well to the smaller scale of 3D printing, allowing for direct visual context as an overlay on to a real world replica of the project and intuitive, useable and accessible navigation. Inition were very proactive to work with whilst being open to new ideas and concepts. Working with them was both enjoyable and productive.”
It is easy to understand how architects could use this combination technology to share data about a proposed building with people from various sectors. For example, if one were to produce a 3D printed model of a theme park, you could run a simulation of what would happen in the event of a fire, and how people would leave the theme park, all through the screen of an iPAD.
While many of the items at the 3D Printshow appeared to be a taster of what could be when the technology improves, this application seemed to be one that could genuinely have serious uses in today’s world. You can read a more indepth article about the application on Skyscrapernews.com.
Check out the application in the video below…
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