Aug 20, 2015 | By Simon

When it comes to using models to convey design ideas, those involved with urban development including architects, urban planners, property developers and other stakeholders have been using scale models for decades - oftentimes with manual construction methods.  

Thanks to recent advances in 3D printing however, these same designers are able to quickly put together their concepts in CAD and 3D print them with high resolution and for little cost when compared to the hours of labor traditional hand-crafting methods required.  

More recently, Transport for London (TFL), a local government body responsible for most aspects of the transport system in London, turned to London’s Hobs Reprographics and their 3D printing know-how to communicate plans to upgrade the Victoria Station underground tube station to a number of stakeholders including contractors, neighbors and local authorities.  

While the benefits of using 3D printed models for above ground structures are certainly pronounced, these benefits are even more amplified when conveying an underground idea to stakeholders with little-to-no civil engineering know-how.  Among other reasons, the many layers that make up the complex underground network of tunnels, rooms and utility cable paths is difficult to visualize even with a 2D illustration.    

Among other challenges that the design team had to illustrate with their 3D printed model included showing the relationship of elements - including the many tunnels - within a multi-level structure as well as showing the location of the structure relative to the constraints above and below ground.  Additionally, the designers wanted the 6-section model to be durable enough to be used on-site by builders as a form of reference during the building stage.  

To create the model, the design team laser scanned the existing Victoria Station using millions of points of data to create an accurate 3D model of the station’s layout.  Once this point of reference was established, they were then able to link the measurements to their ‘Victoria Station Upgrade’ design and ultimately, create an accurate 3D modeled depiction of the intended design, which was subsequently 3D printed at a scaled down size.  

In order to illustrate the many details that go along with the planning and construction of an underground train station - including utility cables and pipes, passenger walkways, ticket halls and others - the designers used a number of vibrant colors to distinguish these features on the final 3D printed model, which was produced through a selective laser sintering (SLS) process to preserve details and provide bright colors at a reasonable price.  

In order to further illustrate the design of the station in context to the surrounding area, the designers placed the model into a case that featured representations of ground level features including surrounding buildings and landmarks.  

Needless to say, the resulting 3D printed model of the Victoria Station Upgrade has been considered “very useful” by those involved with the project thanks to its ability to quickly convey ideas without the need for more complicated presentations.  It’s been so useful in fact, that other 3D printed models for other stations are already in the pipeline.

"Sharing the 3D design is just as essential as creating the design in the first place; the Project Team have been utilising 3D prints for several years,” said Paul Kick of Transport for London.

“The overall 3D Print produced by Hobs Studio effectively communicates the extents of the Victoria Station Upgrade construction beneath the ground and conveys the challenges we are currently overcoming which people often fail to appreciate."   



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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