Jul 28, 2016 | By Alec

Even though the technology is becoming more and more accessible every year, metal 3D printing won’t be replacing each and every other metal manufacturing option just yet. For now, metal 3D printing is largely limited to aerospace and automotive industries, while conventional techniques continue to reign supreme elsewhere. But 3D printing can still make a difference in those other sectors as well. This has just been illustrated by renowned San Francisco-based 3D printing service Moddler, who used their 3D printing expertise to greatly speed up the production process for gorgeous new bronze Major League Baseball and Triple Crown trophies.

Moddler, of course, is a leading 3D printing service provider who are known for using Stratasys technology to produce the highest possible quality results. And from their San Francisco HQ, they are perfectly based to support California’s technological core. But the company is also specialized in what they call ‘the world of figures’, where their 3D printing origins can be found. As a result, they were the perfect partner to be involved in the development of new trophies for the Major League Baseball and the New York Racing Association (NYRA).

3D concept model of new Triple Crown trophy.

For in both sports, the time had come for new awards. Especially remarkable is their involvement in the production of the Triple Crown trophy – which is almost never awarded. The pinnacle achievement in the world of horse racing, it can only be won by consecutively winning the three biggest races in existence: the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. This feat has only been achieved twelve times in the past century, and had not been achieved for 37 years until American Pharaoh did so last year in a thrilling neck and neck race.

As the unique Triple Crown trophy was awarded last year, the NYRA was in need of a new trophy. NYRA President Chris Kay was especially looking for a design that emphasized just how remarkable it actually is. “It's 7 1/2 inches and relatively minimalistic,” said Kay of the current trophy. “For something as grand as the Triple Crown—something that is so rare and hard to achieve—we should have something equally spectacular. That was my motivation.”

Kay therefore tapped sculptor Roberto Santo, who designed a clay model for a new 36 inch tall Triple Crown trophy. “That is where Moddler came in. From a stellar 3D model created by the designer, Roberto Santo, we produced a high resolution, 10" hoof to hoof 3D print to be used as a master for molding and casting the beautiful trophy commissioned by the NYRA President, Chris Kay,” Moddler reveals.

Taking that clay sculpture, Moddler made a 3D model with the help of 3D scanning experts Scansite3D. “Once we had the scans in our possession, [we] used the program Magics to prepare the models for correct scales, and print-ability,” they explain. Using the in-house Objet Eden 500v 3D printer, the San Francisco experts 3D printed the trophy in VeroWhite material. The final 3D printed model is 10 by 3.5 by 6 inches in size, and took about 14 hours to make. After cleaning by hand and washed with a water jet, the completed model can be used for lost wax molding and bronze casting.

Though the completed 3D print is absolutely spectacular, we sadly won’t be seeing this trophy awarded this year. Two separate horses have already won the Belmont and Preakness races, making it impossible to attain this year. While the Triple Crown could thus be sitting on a NYRA shelf for some time, it will be well worth the wait.

At least the new Major League Baseball trophies will be awarded each year. Of course many trophies are awarded at the end of every season, but earlier this month the MLB announced that the Batting Titles for both the National and American Leagues would be renamed after two incredible players: The Tony Gwynn National League Batting Champion Award, and Rod Carew American League Batting Champion Award. As both have won the titles numerous times, they were obvious choices. “Major League Baseball is pleased to recognize their extraordinary careers by naming our batting crowns in their honor,” MLB’s Rob Manfred said before the All-Star game on July 12.

But new trophies also means new designs, and Moddler was brought into this design process as well. And again, these new awards were made by combining the technologies of 3D scanning and 3D printing with the craftsmanship of lost wax bronze casting. Scansite3D was also involved in 3D scanning, and they had previously acquired the necessary data on Rod Carew a few years ago – though there were some concerns about whether or not that data was still useable. The Tony Qwynn 3D scan, on the other hand, was made from the bronze statue outside the Petco Park Stadium in San Diego.

Moddler was subsequently brought in to 3D print very high quality masters that could be cast in bronze, and they revealed to be honored to be involved. Again, they used Magics to properly scale the models and make them 3D printable. “Both of the MLB trophies were printed with separated batts, The Rod Carew (3 pieces total) was cut and the waist and the Tony Qwynn print (3 pieces total) was cut at the upper thigh on the right leg,” they explain.

Again, an Objet Eden 500v 3D printer was used (VeroWhite) for both the Tony Gywnn (9.5" W x 7" D x 12.7" H) and the Rod Carew (9" W x10" D x 12" H) models. Both were 3D printed together in about 32 hours. After 3D printing, wax models and ceramic molds were created using the lost wax technique. The final trophies could subsequently be made in bronze, and were affixed to handmade cherry wood bases. All in all, the trophies took just two weeks to make – with the 3D printing portion taking just five. And as was the case for the Triple Crown trophy, the 3D printed models are absolutely gorgeous.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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