Jun 28, 2016 | By Alec

3D printing is often hailed as the future of manufacturing, but that doesn’t mean older technologies should be completely discarded. In fact, 3D printing also works very well in combination with old-fashioned technologies and principles. This is once again proven by beeswax specialist Bradley Swift, who has just launched a Kickstarter campaign for a remarkable product. Called Cascadia Candles, he has developed a range of 3D printed candles that are exact replicas of real mountains in the Northwest of the US. Made with the help of LiDAR data, Cascadia Candles is a series of gorgeous and highly accurate candles that are perfect hiking souvenirs.

As Bradley revealed, this is by no means his first venture involving beeswax. He actually founded Portland Bee Balm five years ago, a small three-man manufacturer of lip balm that is closely linked to the Pacific Northwest – where the developer grew up and where he still finds his inspiration outdoors. Since then, Bradley has been surrounded by massive blocks of pure beeswax on a daily basis, which inspired him to expand his range of products. “The idea to make candles comes naturally around all this beeswax. I waited because I wanted to make something special and unique. Something that didn’t already exist in the world. Something I could have in my home, that reminds me of the amazing spaces right outside my door,” he says.

Over the past year or so, they have therefore been working hard to bring one of the world’s oldest products to the 21rst century, and give it a distinct Northwestern taste. Beeswax candles have been used for thousands of years, but Bradley wasn’t looking for any old candles. With the help of Seattle-based geo-spatial technology specialist and friend Luke, he instead combined ancient beeswax-candle making principles with LiDAR topography data from the three iconic mountains of the area: Mount Hood, Mount Rainier and Mount Saint Helens.

Of course the LiDAR data is crucial for this project. LiDAR stands for light detection and ranging, and is a commonly used technique to capture elevations and details of the world around us. In a nutshell, lasers are used to bounce light beams off terrain and measure the time it takes to return. “Divide the time it takes to return by the speed of light and you can know the distance to an object or surface. With an aerial use of this process it is possible to create a very high resolution topographical data set,” Bradley explains.

That data is obviously extremely suitable for 3D printing. Just last week, we saw how one British designer created an intricate 3D printed map of Central London using similar LiDAR data. But for Cascadia Candles, the mountain data sets have been converted into three dimensional renderings of these iconic mountains.

To make it 3D printable, Bradley received some help friend and video game developer Ted, who turned the LiDAR data into stunning 3D printable objects. Using a MakerGear M2 3D printer, those 3D models were turned into accurate mountain replicas and Bradley was amazed by the technology’s potential. “We believe that the accessibility of 3D printing will drive drastic change in the world of product design,” he says. 3D printed in PLA, all models were completed in about 16 hours each, at 0.2mm layers. The layers themselves actually give the prints an excellent topographical touch.

But these were not the actual candle molds – instead the prints were used to cast molds in silicone. Once the material hardens, they were left with excellent high quality molds. All the intricate LiDAR details were retained, and the molds can be used again and again to manufacture gorgeous (soy or beeswax) candles. “Our customers will be able to follow their weekend hike through the ridges, valleys, glaciers, and moraines visible on their candle,” Bradley says of the Cascadia Candles’ quality.

These amazing results have already inspired the startup to produce a much larger range of candles using the same LiDAR principles. “Shasta, Baker, Denali, The Hawaiian Islands, from the sea floor up (taller than Everest) the list goes on,” he says. To make that happen, Bradley just launched a Kickstarter campaign for his Cascadia Candles to fund production. In particular, funds will go towards packaging, soy and beeswax purchases and a temperature controlled, water jacketed melting tank. Despite those costs, a limited pledge is more than enough; for just $12, you can get a set of all three mountains as tea light candles. For just $30, you can get a full sized mountain candle (or concrete model). For more info, check out the fantastic Cascadia Candles on Kickstarter here.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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