Today it seems that 3D printing is making the world go ‘round in so many ways—even those created in miniature. While we see the technology making substantial impacts in industry, many other fields are being affected positively too. Both architecture and construction are great examples of this, allowing for prototypes and models to be created (and changed) easily, along with the actual creation of buildings—and even entire villages.
Now, 3D printing is behind a ‘wonderland’ of miniature architecture that covers 17,000 square feet in twelve sections. Created by Alvin Wan Cheng Huat and his partner Chan Chee Wing, MinNature Malaysia has been wowing exhibit goers at Summit USJ since November of last year.
“I don’t have an architecture background and I learned most of the work such as casting the plaster, wood work and even wiring by myself. I can’t say it was an easy journey but it all paid off in the end,” said Alvin in a recent interview.
Each section of the display is different, with much of the craftsmanship being the result of many, many hours of 3D printing. Alvin shared that sometimes he and his partner were literally working around the clock on the 3D printed pieces. They now have over 60 people working on their team, and most of them were trained by Alvin in the 3D printing process.
“It is passion that drives. The people here have that same drive and it pushes them to learn new things. They don’t question why can’t they do it, but how can I do it. I give them all the parts and they will come up with the best idea,” said Alvin.
This is a project that has spanned eight years. As greater access to 3D printing became available, the team could fabricate parts more easily.
“The structures are handmade, where each printed piece is combined to make it. The people here managed to salvage some parts to make some of the buildings. For example, the surau is made from spoiled pieces from other places and the team managed to join, spray paint and put it up,” said Alvin.
Some of the miniature structures are created by the team from imagination, but others are inspired by real buildings which must be photographed so that all details can be followed.
“Once that is done, the files are sent to the 3D printers to be printed out,” Alvin explained. “A test print is always done to ensure that we have achieved the correct scale. Once we have done that, we will continue printing the entire building and start assembling them.
After assembly, the joints are cleaned and smoothed out to make it ready for painting and weathering. Once all of those are done, the electronic part comes in to light up the models.”
And while 3D printing may allow for such a miniature wonderland to be created, the work is still painstaking. Some models actually take up to three months to create, such as Masjid Negara, which comprises 1,300 parts and was the product of four different teams. Other models, however, can be made in nearly record time.
“My proudest one would be the Thean Hou Temple as it took me 2 days to complete the entire 1,536 part designs with all its intricate details. It’s the only model in MinNature that is displaying its original 3D printed colours,” said Alvin.
Alvin and his miniature model artisans aren’t finished either, as a second phase looms ahead.
“Throughout the years ahead, we will continue to launch new phases and also make new models on the existing layout. We draw some of the inspirations based on visitors’ feedback on what they would love to see,” said Alvin.
Discuss in the Mini Malaysia forum at 3DPB.com.[Source / Images: Vulcan Post]