AMS Spring 2023

Kilwell Fibretube to 3D Print Massive Sculpture for New Zealand Roadway

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The mind of the artist is shown to us by expressions of creativity that are often described as beautiful, stunning—as well as thought-provoking and inspirational—and so much more. One particular piece of work that has been under consideration in New Zealand is meant to encompass all those qualities as well as acting as a welcome in Rotorua at an intersection (State Highway 5 and SH30).

The artwork in question is a $500,000 sculpture for the Hemo Gorge area, to be made by a Rotorua firm, Kilwell Fibretube. Known for their specialized work, mainly in tubing, the firm will be 3D printing the sculpture at their local factory and then it will be placed at the southern entrance of the intersection.

Design, construction, and materials have been among the major considerations with the large sculpture. All involved had expected it to be installed by summer, but ‘roadblocks’ ensued as they discovered the complexities associated with the design, with limited manufacturers being capable of such work. The artist who designed the sculpture is from the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute/Te Puia. Initially, it was meant to be constructed in stainless steel. As that proved to be an unsuitable material, the ‘local innovators’ began talking to the Rotorua Lakes Council about the challenges within the project.

“Kilwell approached us so we’ve been working with them, alongside Te Puia/New Zealand Arts and Crafts Institute and Victoria University’s digital design lecturer Derek Kawiti,” said Stewart Brown, Council Art and Culture Director.

“It’s a fantastic result – this is going to be very innovative and the fact it will be done locally is really great. The work will also create a few new jobs so that’s an added bonus.”

The intensive project means that the team at Kilwell will be supervising their 3D printers running every day of the week for 21 hours, for a total of 79 days. They will be using PLA filament for the project, expecting that over 63km of material will be needed. Once 3D printing is complete, technicians are responsible for placing a layer of carbon fiber over the parts. The original design will be completely intact.

“The finished product will look exactly like the model thanks to the precision of 3D technology,” stated Stacy Gordine, New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute tumu (head) of Te Takapu o Rotowhio (National Stone and Bone Carving School).

The sculpture was inspired by Ngatoro-i-rangi, a high priest credited with finding safe passage for his people to Aotearoa. It is expected to be installed by summer of 2018.

Kilwell Fibretube Chief Executive Craig Wilson with a model of the sculpture. [Photo: Rotorua Daily Post]

“The design is derived from customary whakairo rakau (wood carving) elements, yet is interpreted in a contemporary way,” Gordine said.

Four jobs will have been created just for this project alone, with the statue to stand 12 meters high and weighing 800 kilograms (as opposed to the estimated 12 metric tons the stainless steel original design would have been). While this is a big undertaking for production of an artwork, Kilwell is already responsible for a large portfolio of work in terms of complex projects. They are known as world leaders in design.

“It’s fantastic to be able to showcase the work we do to our local community and be part of the sculpture that will welcome visitors to our city from the south,” said Craig Wilson, Kilwell Fibretube Chief Executive.

What do you think of this design? Let us know your thoughts; join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source: Rotorua Daily Post / Images: Kilwell Fibretube via Rotorua Daily Post]

 

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