This Artist is 3D Printing Philadelphia One City Block at a Time

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3dp_phillymodel_lego_philly

LEGO Philadelphia.

You might remember Doctor Octoroc as the guy who built a large model of the city of Philadelphia out of 20,000 LEGO pieces. It is quite an impressive build, not only in scale but in the sheer man hours that must have gone into assembling that many LEGOs. The art piece ended up going viral last year, and it was so well received that he decided to do it all over again. But instead of LEGO, this time he would design and 3D print the city one block at a time in 3D Printedelphia.

One of the aspects of Doctor Octoroc’s first Philadelphia project that he wasn’t happy with was the inaccuracy of the scale, the lack of realistic colors and the limitations of the LEGO blocks in recreating smaller details. But by 3D printing each block he is able to produce near accurate renderings of many of the finer details of the iconic American city. Even with current 3D printing technology this new project is going to be challenge and Doctor Octoroc is determined to recreate every detail on every block and building as closely to the real thing as possible.3dp_phillymodel_cityskyline

“I’m unsure how much of the city I’ll eventually build but I’m hoping to include all of Center City and, once the full scope of the layout is determined, build a base to house all of the blocks and display it. The wonderful part of this project is that it isn’t just going to be one model in the end – anyone can 3d print these models for their self,” Doctor Octoroc recently said on Reddit.

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Liberty Plaza.

Doctor Octoroc started his project at the 1600 block of Market Street and will work outwards from there, designing and 3D printing as many blocks as he can. His first block was Liberty Plaza and even with a few bumps in the road he was quite happy with the final result. He hopes that by designing the city blocks as vector painted models rather than graphic texture maps he can reproduce much finer details, some of which are as small as .1mm. His recreation of Liberty Plaza, which includes the Westin hotel and the PNC building, was 3D printed by Shapeways in a full color sandstone material that does a pretty good job of recreating the buildings, although the process hasn’t been without its setbacks.

“I love the challenge of accurately representing the features of these city blocks while adhering to 3d printing specs for the material but it can be frustrating. Sometimes, prints get rejected before they try to print them because they appear to be unsuited, other times they’ll print right a few times and still be rejected. As awesome as 3d printing is, there is still a variable when it comes to the structure of the model,” said Doctor Octoroc on his Facebook page.

While the sandstone material did a great job reproducing the buildings, Doctor Octoroc found that some of the smaller, finer features weren’t as detailed as he hoped they would be. His solution was to 3D print some of those smaller features with different materials that would give him the level of detail that he wanted. So he designed and printed some of the smaller parts using a plastic material that he would simply add to the buildings, including the antenna for Liberty One, the Oldenburg clothespin sculpture from Centre Square, a water fountain for Love Park and a set of plastic trees that can be placed throughout the park and the rest of the city blocks.

In addition to 3D printing his own replica of Philadelphia Doctor Octoroc has also uploaded all of his currently designed buildings to Shapeways to anyone can 3D print their own. He’s also included two versions of some of the city blocks, one with all of the smaller details included and one without that needs to have the small, more details plastic versions of the features added. You can order your own versions of the city block models on his Shapeways store. And you can follow along as he continues to model and 3D print the city of Philadelphia on his Facebook page.  Let’s hear your thoughts on this project in the 3D Print Philadelphia forum thread on 3DPB.com.

 

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