Charles Aquilina may be the most prolific and versatile inventor in Malta. In a tiny, 122-square-mile island country, it’s not difficult to stand out, but Aquilina has become the go-to for architects, artists, and other designers who require prototypes for clients. Aside from his skill, he has gained a reputation for producing fast prototypes on demand, which he does thanks, at least in part, to his adoption of 3D printing. Aquilina uses an Mcor Matrix 300+, a unique 3D printer that uses plain old business paper as its printing material, to create architectural models and prototypes of furniture and statues.
“Paper is sustainable, recyclable and far more affordable than other 3D printing materials,” he says. “The models are incredibly durable, detailed and pleasant to touch.”
One of Aquilina’s specialties are his architectural models, which are in high demand. Currently, he says, he is working on models for a hotel in Libya and for a real estate development which requires a particularly large prototype. 3D printed architectural models are becoming favored by many architects, as they can be created much faster than traditional handmade models, and can produce high levels of tiny detail that weren’t previously possible. Aquilina likes paper for his models as they can easily be glued together to create extra-large prototypes such as the one required for the real estate development. One thing that does take extra time with architectural models, however, is painting, which is why Aquilina is considering purchasing the Mcor IRIS, the Irish company’s snazzy full-color 3D paper printer.
Malta is a predominantly Catholic country, and as statues and altars feature prominently in Catholicism, Aquilina sees a steady demand for statue prototypes. The island’s villages each have their own patron saints, who are especially honored on their respective feast days every year. Sculptors turn to Aquilina to create full-sized 3D printed prototypes of statues so that their clients can see how the sculptures will look in their homes or gardens before they are created. Aquilina scans a small clay prototype of each statue and uploads it to Autodesk 3ds Max, which he uses to create his models. The 3D printed prototypes, he says, greatly increase customer satisfaction as they can examine “previews” of the statues and request modifications before the final product is created.
Aquilina’s work recently caught the attention of Malta’s furniture manufacturers’ association, which has asked him to look into 3D printing as a way to develop furniture designs more quickly.
“Though modest in size, Malta is bold and innovative in vision,” he says. “Traditionally, furniture manufacturers work from two-dimensional design drawings. We’ve discovered that manufacturers can save time and money, and improve the quality of their products by supplementing drawings with 3D printed prototypes. Not only are manufacturers better able to find flaws earlier, they also get a better feel for the final product. That way, they can propose improvements leading to more comfortable, elegant furniture and higher customer satisfaction.”
3D printing is becoming more commonly seen in the manufacture of actual functional furniture pieces, but it doesn’t look like Aquilina will be trying his hand at making his own furniture at this point. He’ll leave that to the manufacturers, who use more traditional production methods, but he will happily 3D print as many paper models as the furniture manufacturers require. He’s open to lending his services to other industries, as well.
“There are so many exciting things 3D printing with paper can do, and I’m always considering new possibilities,” he says. “I don’t think we’re even close to hitting our limits with the technology, and Mcor is helping us expand what we can achieve every day.”
Are you surprised to hear about this inventor using an Mcor? Discuss in the Malta Inventor Uses Mcor 3D Printer forum over at 3DPB.com.[Source: Mcor]