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Topic Number : 103 Morphosis Prints Models By Martin Doscher Date: 18 Auguest 2004 Web Address: http://www.architectureweek.com/articles/tools_articles.html Presented By: Rasha Abd El-Rahman Mohamed Abd El-Rahman Moussa Contents: Introduction Morphosis Prints Models Making The Model How the Model Is Used Evolution of the CAD Model Introduction In many architecture firms, the introduction of computer-aided design has Morphosis Prints Models resulted in less reliance on hand-crafted scale models. However in some firms, CAD has enabled a happy marriage of new techniques with the old-fashioned craft. The Santa Monica, California firm of Morphosis has a long history of handmade physical models and drawings. But as we began to integrate computers in the practice, and as CAD models became the core medium for project development, we looked for a way to produce high-quality physical models that would remain consistent with the digital models. In 2000, we acquired our first 3D printer, from the Z Corporation. This Before 2000, Morphosis's models, such as this one device provides a direct link between the CAD model and the physical output. for the Nara, Japan Convention Center, were almost entirely handmade. We build digital models using form-Z or TriForma, and the data drives the Photo: Morphosis printer to create physical models. Morphosis Prints Models Introduction Morphosis Prints Models Making The Model It takes us about a day to prepare a digital model for printing — breaking it into appropriate pieces, carving voids into solids to save material, and subtracting parts that will be built manually in other materials. Then we facet the CAD model into a triangulated mesh and convert it to a stereolithography- (STL-) format file. The 3D printer comes An urban-scale model in the process of powder removal with its own software that sections the STL file horizontally into 0.004-inch after production on a 3D printer. Photo: Morphosis (0.1-millimeter) layers — the thickness of the plaster powder we use. The 3D printer spreads one thin layer of powder over the print bed, then passes over the powder just as an inkjet printer head passes over paper. Where the digital model indicates a solid, the printer, using a modified inkjet printer cartridge, injects the binder cyanoacrylate. A designer in the Morphosis shop preparing a 3D printer for production. Photo: Morphosis Making The Model After one pass, the print bed lowers by one thickness of powder, and the Morphosis Prints Models printer spreads another layer of powder and jets another pass of binder. The cycle continues until the top layer of the model has been printed. This process takes about five hours for a 6- by 6- by 6-inch (15- by 15- by 15-centimeter-) model. The actual time depends on the solid volume of the physical model. When the printing is completed, a 6-inch- (15-centimeter-) tall model is immersed 6 inches (15-centimeters) deep in powder. Raising the print bed, you remove the "part" and vacuum-clean out the excess powder, which can be sifted and reused. Morphosis has adopted the practice of baking the newly "printed" model in In designing the Cooper Union New Academic Building a small oven for about an hour at 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees in New York, Morphosis built a 1:1000 context model with multiple plug-in design schemes. Centigrade) to finish its curing. If parts are still fragile after baking, we manually Photo: Morphosis apply a coating of epoxy or cyanoacrylate to stiffen them. Making The Model After printing, about 20 percent of our models need touching up. But Morphosis Prints Models only 5 percent are unusable, so we consider our success rate to be high. The firm's designers have learned to anticipate the needs of the physical model, making, for instance, pieces no thinner than 1/10 inch (2.5 millimeters). The process of finishing a 3D-printed model varies according to one's stylistic preference. Morphosis' plaster models are typically primed with a few coats of gray spray epoxy paint and finished with one coat of spray epoxy. We have also experimented with gilding with silver leaf, and plating in copper and nickel baths, then oxidizing the finish to achieve a rich patina. The 3D-printed model of Diamond Ranch High School after a copper bath and patina. Photo: Morphosis How the Model Is Used We commonly use 3D-printed models for site studies. Morphosis prints Morphosis Prints Models context models at a scale of 1:200, and leaves a hole in the model base where the building would be. These site models are sent around the globe to our clients and design team partners. As design progresses and multiple schemes are developed in parallel, scale building models are "printed" and sent to the remote locations. The recipients can insert the new designs into the hole in the base model to study the design variation in context. Because these models can be printed relatively quickly, it is practical to provide weekly updates. Morphosis often "prints" many variants of a parametric model, with slight The unfinished 3D-printed model of Diamond Ranch High School in Pomona, California. differences, to study design changes. Being able to see two versions side by side Photo: Morphosis is sometimes more informative than viewing two renderings. It enables us to examine spatial detail at eye level. How the Model Is Used We also make larger-scale "exploded" or diagrammatic models. Now that Morphosis Prints Models we develop more information within the CAD model, finer granularity of the physical model is feasible. We sometimes "print" parts of buildings at 1:50, so we can view them both assembled, to study the exterior, and pulled apart, to study the interior spaces. We also produce structural details to study in collaboration with engineers, detailers, and contractors. Steel detailers using Tekla Xsteel software can give us their digital models, which we can import into CAD and prepare for 3D printing. These models help us reach a consensus that would be more difficult to achieve from drawings. An "exploded" 1:100 scale model for a competition for Perth Amboy High School, New Jersey. Photo: Morphosis Evolution of the CAD Model One benefit of developing designs in CAD for in-house model fabrication Morphosis Prints Models has been that the Morphosis designers have necessarily improved the accuracy of their CAD modeling. And because they spend less time building physical models, they can spend more time on design thinking. These models have become the primary medium for studying the building's geometry, while drawings have become secondary. Morphosis is increasingly working in direct collaboration with building component fabricators — for structural and miscellaneous steel and for interior and exterior cladding. A Morphosis CAD model integrating a digital model from a steel detailer. Image: Morphosis We are exploring ways to further develop the same digital models to extract more detailed information, such as steel centerlines and cladding panel sizes and configurations Perched on top of a computer monitor displaying a CAD detail is a "3D-printed" model of a related detail. Photo: Morphosis Evolution of the CAD Model We're learning that design models need to be adaptable to various output Morphosis Prints Models methods. What works as input for a 3D-printed 1:100 scale model does not work for a full-scale steel plasma cutter. We plan to take advantage of the 3D printer's mold-printing capabilities, to make it more efficient to cast metal parts. Just as we apply methods to analyze our CAD models for structure, energy, and lighting, we also want to analyze material properties. Digital analysis of curvature and thickness needs to be available to the designer in near-real time. As the collaborative relationship between design team and A group explores interior and exterior spaces of the Wayne L. detailer/fabricator evolves, we also need to learn to transfer the knowledge Morse U.S. Courthouse in Eugene, Oregon, using a 1:100 model gained from one project to the next. It is imperative that we have tools that on a clear laser-cut base. Photo: Morphosis enhance the designer's ability not only to conceive complex forms, but also to think intelligently about how the final product is made. Morphosis Prints Models Q&A Thank You for Listening
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