Nov 18, 2015 | By Tess

We have covered some extremely ambitious DIY 3D printing projects in the past but perhaps none compare in scale to Philadelphia based artist Doctor Octoroc’s recent venture: to 3D print, block by block, the entire city of Philadelphia.

The project, appropriately called 3D Printedelphia, seemed to be the natural next step for Levi Buffum (known as Doctor Octoroc) who had previously built a miniature model of Philadelphia out of Lego pieces. For this last project, which was completed last year, Doctor Octoroc used over 20,000 Lego blocks to construct as exact a model as he could of his local city. Upon completing the project, however, Buffum was reportedly not satisfied with his work, and felt limited by the color, scale, and lack of detail of the Lego blocks. To truly make his vision a reality the artist has recently announced he will be 3D printing a scale model of Philadelphia.

The project’s progress, for those interested, can be followed on 3D Printedelphia’s Facebook page where Doctor Octoroc is uploading photos of every new building and block he 3D prints. Most recently, he posted a photo of Two Logan Square, supposedly one of his favorite blocks in the city. The project began with the 1600 block of Market Street in Philadelphia and Doctor Octoroc has been working outwards from there.

In order to capture and recreate Philadelphia’s buildings and architecture in the greatest detail, Doctor Octoroc has opted to use vector painting, which, while more laborious than other techniques such as texture mapping, will allow the pieces to be designed and printed with a precision of 0.1mm.

Once designed, the Philadelphia blocks will be 3D printed in a mix of full color sandstone and plastics through the 3D printing service Shapeways. The texture of the sandstone, a grainy material, has allowed Doctor Octoroc to play with the textures of the buildings’ surfaces in the 3D design process as they come through in the print. Some smaller features, such as trees, building antennas, or iconic sculptures, will be 3D printed out of a plastic material to better accommodate their fine details.

In designing the city blocks Doctor Octoroc has had to reconcile and face certain difficulties in using 3D printing technology. As he says of the process, “I love the challenge of accurately representing the features of these city blocks while adhering to 3D printing specs for the material but it can be frustrating. Sometimes, prints get rejected before they try to print them because they appear to be unsuited, other times they’ll print right a few times and still be rejected. As awesome as 3D printing is, there is still a variable when it comes to the structure of the model.”

Not only can you follow Doctor Octoroc’s project step by step through his Facebook page, but you can also access his designs to 3D print the Philadelphia blocks yourself. That is, the artist has uploaded the files onto his Shapeways store, where he has included two versions of the designs: one finely detailed version like the one he is additively manufacturing and one less detailed meant for plastic materials.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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