You can almost hear the sharp crack of the bat, smell hot dogs and popcorn—and taste a sip of delicious but slightly warming beer. The excitement on the baseball field is always palpable, no matter which way the game is going. And that’s true for the racetrack as well, hooves on the track—turf rising up in a cloud behind those glorious, high-performance beasts—and an entire crowd springing to its feet as one, with an energy like no other.
We toss out the term ‘All-American’ quite often. But it really doesn’t get much more so than with the aforementioned scenarios, offering some of the greatest recreation our culture knows, as well as an entire subculture of tension via highly profitable business ventures—and of course, betting. For Moddler, however, when it came to two recent projects, this was all about work, with extreme precision—and no gambling on the details.
We’ve followed the intricate work of this San Francisco-headquartered company, specializing in 3D printed figurines, and playing a big part in allowing the technology to take on substantial roles in special effects for productions such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As word has spread of their detailed and superior talents in 3D design and printing, Moddler has been in demand. And this means they’ve been asked to take part in projects that have some pretty high-powered flash connected with them.
On being contacted to create something for ‘a big client,’ the Moddler team was thrilled to find out their services were being commissioned by MLB to create two 12” tall figures needed for consequent casting in bronze. The stars to be highlighted would be Baseball Hall of Famers Rod Carew (of the Twins and the Angels) and Tony Gwynn (famous in his 20 seasons for the Padres).
“The main request from the client was that the prints be as detailed and high resolution as possible since the final cast parts would be exact replicas of the prints but in bronze, they needed to be perfect,” Jared Murnan, Rapid Prototyping Operations Manager for Moddler, told 3DPrint.com. “We were also informed, from the beginning that these were needed to be shipped out for casting in under a week.”
“Being that figurines have been one of Moddler’s main focuses since the beginning, our bread and butter if you will, we were confident in accepting a project as high stakes and challenging as it was. From there we were all systems go, in order to hit a tight deadline for the trophies unveiling by Rob Manfred before the All-Star game on July 12th.”
Perfection was key, and boy, was that deadline short! With no time to waste, the 3D files to be used for printing were generated by Scansite 3D, a long-time company headquartered in San Rafael, California, and known for their pioneering in both 3D scanning technology and reverse engineering. According to Moddler, the Rod Carew trophy arrived to them from an existing 3D scan that had already been archived. And that could have been a challenging issue there in terms of archived, older technology, if not for the expertise of Scansite.
“We’ve been pushing the boundaries of 3D scanning and 3D printing technology since 1991 so we were confident that the data we made back then would be just as sharp and accurate as any we create today,” says Scansite CEO Lisa Federici.
The Gwynn scan was made just for this project, with Scansite using the Petco Park Stadium bronze statue as a reference point. Upon receiving the two scans, the Moddler design team set to work making sure the 3D models were scaled properly and ready to print—each in three separate parts to ensure better orientation and quality, faster production, safety in post-production and cleaning. Each piece also bore a registration key so there wouldn’t be any confusion in assembly upon being sent for casting.
“For the printing process we were given the go ahead from the MLB to do whatever we needed in order to produce the highest quality work possible,” Murnan told 3DPrint.com.
The figures were created in just five days, with a total of two weeks dedicated to the project, including the bronze casting process. Moddler decided to position the figures so that Rod Carew’s (standing at 9″ W x 10″ D x 12″ H) was cut at the waist and where the hands hold the bat; Gwynn’s (standing at 9.5″ W x 7 ” D x 12.7″ H) was cut at the upper right thigh. Moddler used their own Stratasys Objet Eden 500v, using VeroWhite material, telling us that both figurine prints were produced on the same build, in 32 hours.
“We are always thrilled to work with prestigious organizations such as the MLB and find it a great reward to have our prints be used in creating pieces to be seen around the world,” Murnan told 3DPrint.com.
The figures were permanently attached to handmade, cherry wood bases, bearing brass plaques. According to Scansite3D, these awards will be given as the ‘Tony Gwynn National League Batting Champion’ and the ‘Rod Carew American League Batting Champion’ trophies.
And as if there wasn’t enough energy revved up in the studio, Moddler was also asked to create another very memorable piece for the New York Racing Association. Not only is a trophy for this industry an exciting piece to create under any circumstance, but in the case that this is to be for the next (as yet unknown) Triple Crown winner, it must have been a great honor for the Moddler team to be involved when asked by the association’s president, Chris Kay to help with adding something new to the trophy design.
“It’s 7 1/2 inches and relatively minimalistic,” said Kay of the current trophy. “For something as grand as the Triple Crown—something that is so rare and hard to achieve—we should have something equally spectacular. That was my motivation.”
Jared Murnan was particularly excited about the project, as he knows a great deal about horses having been raised by a semi-pro horse reiner (his mother) and a farrier of over 30 years (his father). Because of his experience, Murnan was well aware of the significance of a Triple Crown trophy, and how very important the day will be when it is handed out again.
This creation would be a replacement for the trophy taken by 2015 winner, American Pharoah, flying through the prerequisite Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes (and going on to win the Grand Slam, as well). It’s also important to note that the Triple Crown had not been taken for 37 years previously—and the trophy will be not be used this year either as no horses have qualified for the special title.
“Having just a year before watched American Pharaoh and his jockey be awarded the trophy after winning the Triple Crown in an adrenaline filled, neck and neck finish, Jared would have never imagined he would a year later play a key role in the creation of the new one of a kind Triple Crown trophy,” the Modder team shared with 3DPrint.com.
Their role was to create the sleek horse, scanned (again by Scansite) from a sculpture by Robert Santo, in 3D print. It would then sit atop the trophy, undoubtedly to be much coveted one day by a winner. Scaling was of the utmost importance as the horse had to sit in place precisely. Sized at 10″ L x 3.5″ W x 6″ H, it was 3D printed in one piece—and the Moddler design team points out that ‘very gentle handling’ was necessary with the mane, tail, and halter.
As with the MLB project, the print was meticulously handled in post production, as the designers cleaned the pieces by hand and then used a gentle pressure wash and soaking in lye to remove any support material. Taking only 14 hours in print time, the horse sculpture was also made with the Objet Eden 500 and VeroWhite.
“We’re looking forward to the day when we can show it off,” Kay said. “We have an opportunity here to have a really magnificent trophy that can bring more attention from both horseplayers and the casual fan about the Triple Crown.”
It could be decades before this trophy is actually used, so file away this information and keep an eye out for seeing this 3D printed work by Moddler one day—when that one very special horse comes along. What did you think of the models? Discuss further in the 3D Prints for MLB & Triple Crown Trophy over at 3DPB.com.
[All linked sources and images provided directly to 3DPrint.com by Moddler]