3-D printing and Google Earth

Google News reports on the use of 3D printers to produce physical topographic models:

The Dimension 3D Printing Group, a business unit of Stratasys, Inc., reports that Mitekgruppen, a Swedish design firm hired to create a 3D model of the city of Stockholm, Sweden, completed the project in a fraction of the normal time by using a Dimension 3D printer and Google Earth.

To construct the Stockholm model, Mitekgruppen used aerial photos and drawings to create the city’s buildings in a computer aided design (CAD) program. Where aerial photos and drawings weren’t available, designers relied on Google Earth to prepare these CAD files for the 3D printer. The CAD files were then sent to the 3D printer to produce models of Stockholm’s buildings. The finished building replicas where then positioned, secured and hand painted along with other landscape features including bridges, cars, boats trains and trees.

“A handmade model of this scale would have been a tremendous time investment,” said Martin Jonsson, co-owner and designer at Mitekgruppen. “Similar city replicas have taken years to construct. With the Dimension 3D printer and the images we gathered from Google Earth, a project that could have taken years to finished was completed in a matter of months.”

Other companies have used the Dimension 3D printer to create neighborhood models within cities. Gordon Ingram Associates (GIA), a U.K. based lighting consultancy firm, used a Dimension to generate scaled 3D models of areas in central London, allowing interested parties the ability to witness the effects of light on the buildings in the cityscape.

Here’s a description of 3D printing.

This would be an awesome tool for conservation projects in developing countries, the technological version of participatory 3D modelling.

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