3D Printer Helps Bring Dam Project to Life
February 9, 2011

3D Printer Helps Bring Dam Project to Life

Lago delle Mischie, Italy - Italian designer Marco Giubelli employed the RapMan 3.1, a self-assembly 3D printer kit from Bits from Bytes, to generate a scale model of a proposed 90-meter dam on behalf of a client.
He used the printer to show people living near the site of a proposed dam in Lago delle Mischie in the Piedmont region of Italy exactly what it would look like.

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.

“Creating an exact replica of what the dam would look like really helped bring the project to life,” says Giubelli 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,” adds Giubelli. “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.”

Giubelli says the RapMan 3.1 printer has now become a standard work tool with 3D rendering making up 80 percent of his business. He is currently using the printer to create a model of the proposed concourse at the new Najaf stadium in Iraq. His 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.