3D printing is—as we know—revolutionary, transformative, allows us to enter a new realm of imagination and invention—and can be both extremely functional and downright fun. Offering the latest in mind-blowing creations, SD3D, working with Aon, the global insurance broker, has created the largest 3D printed city. Measuring 9′ x 10.5′, this enormous fabrication was not only meant to show the world what 3D printing can do, but it also works as a great addition to Aon’s working portfolio for displaying to clients exactly what they can do on a broad level, as well as certainly giving SD3D a chance to show off their printing chops.
The whole process is quite amazing as a study from beginning to end, as you see the pretty simple drawing they used to create the city, translating it into 3D using Rhino modeling software. It took the team over 200 hours of working on their design to reach what looks to be quite a historical result in terms of project scope and size.
It’s not surprising whatsoever to hear that this project was a challenge. The team had to first nail down the design in a meticulous manner before they even thought about the 3D printing aspect.
“Printing something this massive was not an easy task,” states SD3D on their website. “We sectioned the surface area into 9″ x 9″ squares that aligned with the roads. We would then also section the tall skyscrapers into parts that were no larger than nine inches in height.”
Just imagine how much detail went into this! They also had to factor in making items like miniature trees and plants—not to mention scaled, soaring skyscrapers, and much more. SD3D reported making over 300 quadrants. In drafting, they printed at .4mm layer heights and used ‘roughly 65 kilogram spools.’ You may wonder how they had time to do this—and indeed they printed for over 3,000 hours—with the use of over twelve 3D printers, to include their own printer and the LulzBot TAZ.
The material of choice is PLA, in white, with accents of color thrown in, such as:
- Gray PLA for the roads
- Green PLA for the plants
- Red PLA for cones
- Blue acrylic pieces for water
As a demonstration of how global Aon’s reach is, the ‘city’ shows 29 different areas where Aon is vested in taking care of clients, offering protection with a variety of insurances and services. As a marketing tool, it’s ingenious—and bound to be fascinating to all—designating sectors where Aon can offer their services, such as:
- Financial institutions
- Worker’s compensation
- Arrange insurance programs for mergers
- Offer private risk management
- Provide other commercial activities
“After 3,000 hours of printing, we were left with over 60 kilograms of printed plastic to assemble,” stated the SD3D team. “We built platforms so that the city would be sectioned off into four areas for easier transportation.”
“Quadrants were then glued to the platforms according to the proper layout over the next day, with all external parts, such as plants, being added as we went.”
And as if that wasn’t enough, they also ‘went to town’ 3D printing a miniature version as well, at one-third the size (3’x4’). Nearly everything was the same in that version—meaning so was the amount of time and effort. With even more updates coming soon, and further details on how they did this, the SD3D team plans to continue breaking even more 3D printing records. What do you think of the scope of this project? Discuss in the SD3D 3D Printed City forum over at 3DPB.com.[All images: SD3D]