How Stratasys Direct Manufacturing Is Using 3D Printing to Help Reshape Detroit


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046b035Olympia Entertainment, a subsidiary of multi-billion dollar conglomerate Ilitch Holdings, is using 3D printing technology to redesign downtown Detroit. Specifically, the District Detroit, a world-class development of 50 blocks of businesses, parks, venues and restaurants, will be designed and constructed with the help of 3D printing.

On top of their involvement in the development of the District Detroit, a development covered extensively by mainstream media outlets including Forbes, New York Times and CNBC, Olympia Entertainment owns leading sports teams such as Detroit Red Wings and Tigers. Once completed, the development site will be used to bring new venues for the two sports teams, provide office and residential buildings for the general population, and create efficient civic infrastructure.

3D printing technology is widely used in countries like China to carry out two major operations: visualization of construction and manufacturing of products. As covered by in early November, Chinese company WinSun successfully utilized 3D printing technology to create commercial villas and houses. We are also seeing increasing applications globally of 3D printing in applications including commercial real estate and other architectural uses.

Uniquely, Olympia Entertainment partnered with leading 3D printer manufacturer and services provider Stratasys to create 3D designs, scans and plans of the development site as well as to manufacture necessary components of buildings, stadiums amongst many others to optimize the entire process of construction.

“In a bid to drum up support for The District Detroit project and illustrate their grand vision, Olympia Entertainment and local architectural design agency Zoyes Creative Group teamed up with Stratasys Direct Manufacturing to create the The District Detroit Preview Center. The core of this multimedia demonstration comprises two large 3D printed scale models. First, there is the detailed arena itself, and then the entire 50-block district, in miniature,” Stratasys Direct Manufacturing reports.

Stratasys Direct Manufacturing is a branch of the $990 million 3D printing company Stratasys formed by leading manufacturers Solid Concepts, RedEye and Harvest Technologies. The organization was established by the four companies to assist companies and clients in using next-generation manufacturing technologies.

unnamed-1Stratasys Direct Manufacturing’s members, employees and companies have garnered a significant amount of experiences in various areas including Stereolithography and CNC machining over the last three decades, as the company has shared with us previously. With their experience and resources, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing led large-scale projects including the production of 3D printed bones and 3D printed brains for surgeons and healthcare corporations.

By partnering with Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, Olympia Entertainment’s Tom Wilson stated that it was efficient and relatively simple to sell out its development complex such as residential and office suites. He also noted that the process of selling its properties was substantially shortened, from the conventional 6-month period down to less than 40 days.

“That model actually puts you in real Detroit. There’s no question that this was the game changer for us. We had a dream that within six months, we would be able to market all of our suites, and we would be happy with that. As it turned out, in 40 days, all of the suites were gone,” said Wilson.

3D models of the development site

3D models of the development site

More importantly, Wilson emphasized that the detailed and sophisticated 3D printed models of the entire 50-block development site led to a massive success in terms of manufacturing and marketing. At the center of a model is the Little Caesars Arena, set to open in 2017 as home to the Detroit Red Wings. The entire Olympia Entertainment development team was excited to see how 3D printing technology allows both its clients and manufacturers to efficiently visualize the project.

“You can always look at a rendering and you kind of get a feeling for how it is going to look, but it really doesn’t have the chance to come alive until you can put yourself and your clients in it. There’s telling the story, and then there’s being part of the story. When you see the model and the detail, the city comes to life,” Wilson added.

Zoyes Creative Group, the company contracted to complete the construction of the development site, further emphasized the importance of the presence of Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, by expressing his gratitude to the 3D printing company in helping manufacturers complete construction in time.

3D model of the stadium which 3D printing was used to manufacture various components

3D model of the stadium: 3D printing was used to manufacture various components

Dean Zoyes, co-founder and president of Zoyes Creative Group, explained that 3D printing technology was used to print and manufacture various components of the construction including columns, seats and sections of arenas for the above-mentioned sports team.

“Stratasys Direct Manufacturing has been key in helping us get through some of the project deadlines, as well as some of the larger print volumes that are associated with this type of build,” said Zoyes.

Rich Rozeboom, Imaging Director of Zoyes Creative Group, noted that Stratasys Direct Manufacturing relieved the company of tremendous stress by working with their deadlines. This provided both the manufacturing company and Olympia Entertainment enough time to conduct marketing and sales operations whilst completing the construction phase.

“There was a lot of time pressure, from the stadium, from the city, from everywhere, and Stratasys Direct Manufacturing jumped right into the water with us. The day we sent them our first files, they were printing. Four days later, they were shipping here,” said Rozeboom.

Based on Rozeboom’s statement, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing certainly played a key role in manufacturing components on the spot for the firm. If the company had to rely on conventional methods of manufacturing, the entire construction phase could have been delayed by years, considering the time spent on the shipping of large-scale components. Discuss in the Detroit forum at

[Source: Stratasys Direct Manufacturing / Image Credit: Olympia Entertainment]


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