Dec 25, 2014 | By Simon

As more industries are learning how 3D printing might aid in the type of work that they do, an increase of interior designers, architects, historians and others with an interest in communicating structural design are among those who are picking up 3D printing at a surprisingly quick pace.

A recent example comes from Singapore-based Mēkā Studios LLP. Mēkā, whose name is derived from the word 'Maker' in the Japanese language, is focused on enabling creativity and innovation through increasing access to digital fabrication tools such as 3D printing. As an authorized distributor for 3D printing materials as well as a hub for various 3D printing needs in the community ranging from servicing 3D printers to hosting training courses for local institutions and corporations, Mēkā has earned their place as one of the foremost experts on 3D printing in the area.

Recently, Mēkā teamed up with the Singapore Memory Project to create BuiltinSG, an immersive project that aims to preserve Singapore's rich cultural history through the use of 3D printed models, videos, short stories and exclusive interviews. In essence, the partnership is focused on immortalising the stories of people, places and things that have shaped Singapore's culture through a series of 3D printed collections.

National Theater

The first collection in the series will focus on a visual journey through places that played significant roles in the nation's development, including the Singapore National Theatre and religious icons such as the Jamae Mosque. In addition to 3D models and prints of the historical structures, the series will also incorporate interviews with architects, builders and other stakeholders that bring interesting insight to the visual journeys.

Jamae Mosque

Aiming to share the experience with as many people as possible, each building will have a 3D print that will be shared freely and available for anyone to download and print. Mēkā also plans to launch a competition in early 2015 that will allow people to have a larger role in the project with the ultimate goal of ensuring that the Mēkā designs are usable in everyday living.

"The project really stemmed from an initiative in Singapore to collect memories, this was the Singapore Memory Project," Mēkā told 3Ders. "We wanted to give people a more tangible "memory" to hold on to and that is what we hope to achieve with BuiltinSG."

As for how they are creating the 3D printable buildings, the designers rebuild the structures in Google Sketchup and export the Sketchup files so that users can "remix" them if they desire or simply just print as-is.

Depending on the complexity of the model, the designers might break up the structures into multiple pieces, such as the Jamae Mosque that was broken into four for ease of printing. They have determined that on average, each of their free models will take approximately 6-10 hours to 3D print at 20% infill.

In developing the final working files, the Mēkā team did all of their test printing on a MakerBot Replicator 2 or a FlashForge Creator Pro. Additionally, prints were created on a handful of other machines to make sure that they would create a consistent print regardless of which machine a user might have.

Whether other countries or cities start to adopt a similar way of preserving their history is yet to be known, however the process of modeling and/or 3D scanning significant historical artifacts and locations has been picking up significant traction. Among others who are creating digital libraries of their collections are the Smithsonian and the British Museum. The option to 3D print your own artifacts has been extremely beneficial in allowing teachers to better communicate historical context in the classroom or to let museumgoers 'touch' an otherwise protected and sensitive piece of history.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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