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Low cost 3D printer helps bring dam project to life
An Italian designer has been able to show people living near the site of a proposed dam in Italy exactly what it would look like thanks to 3D print technology (or rapid prototyper) developed by UK-based Bits from Bytes.
By: Empica Ltd
The new dam, used to store water to power a hydro-electric power station, was designed to meet severe water shortages experienced in the Biella province during the summer months.
The printer, known as the RapMan 3.1, is the brainchild of Bits from Bytes, based in Clevedon, near Bristol (UK) and costs just under £1,000.
“Creating an exact replica of what the dam would look like really helped bring the project to life,” said Marco from Italian firm Sigma Design.
“When you’re building a new dam that will have a big environmental impact, traditional tools are not enough.
“The public won’t necessarily understand technical drawings, which is where a 3D model comes into its own. It makes it real for them.
“We were able to show people exactly how the lake would look once it was built and the impact it would have on the landscape.”
Aerial photographs of the area, a DWG file with the level curves and a DWG file with the planar sections of the dam were used to help create the 3D model.
Models, terrain and dam, were all geo-referenced for precise positioning.
“In the past the high cost of 3D printing meant it was typically only used by design firms for major assignments,”
“Now we can make 3D presentations for many projects. This means a huge increase in the quality of service we can provide.
“The RapMan is easy to assemble and equally easy to use, especially with the availability of software like Netfabb and AXON.
“It’s a brilliant product and the best purchase since I began my profession. In a highly competitive sector this technology makes all the difference.”
Marco says the RapMan 3.1 printer has now become a standard work tool with 3D rendering making up 80 per cent of his business.
He is currently using the printer to create a model of the proposed concourse at the new Najaf stadium in Iraq.
Marco's project has also been used to produce a case study for students in schools and colleges in the UK to show how 3D printing can be used in the "real world" of business and industry.
The case study and technical details about the RapMan 3.1 can be found on the Bits from Bytes website www.bitsfrombytes.com.
For more information about Sigma Design who are based in Borgosesia, Italy, visit: www.sigma-design.it or email Marco Giubelli: marco.giubelli@