Dec 18, 2017 | By Tess

A New Zealand team has created a large-scale 3D printed model of Auckland’s subterranean lava caves. The impressive models are being showcased as part of the “Underworld” exhibition at the Wynyard Quarter in Auckland.

Auckland residents and visitors will be able to see the 3D printed underground models for free at the exhibition which runs until December 24. If you happen to be into subterranean structures and phenomena, the 3D prints should be right up your alley.

The impressive project was realized through a collaboration between Jason Barnett, an employee at Huapai-based 3D printing company Mindkits, digital artist Chirag Jindal, and speleologist (an expert in caves) Peter Crossley.

Chirag and Crossley reportedly spent 18 months exploring and capturing the lava caves (a cave formed in volcanic rock) underneath Auckland’s Mt Eden, Three Kings, Mt Albert, and One Tree Hill suburbs.

Digital artist Chriag Jindal and speleologist Peter Crossley who captured 3D scans of the lava caves in Auckland, NZ

The caves, which date back as far as 40,000 years ago, were captured by the pair using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology, which is a scanning method that uses a pulsed laser light to measure and map out a space in great detail. Up until now, Auckland's subterranean lava caves have remained largely unexplored as they are primarily located underneath privately owned property.

With the extremely detailed scans of the Auckland lava caves, it was then up to Barnett to transform them into 3D printable models. “It was a pretty grand-scale project,” he said. “No one has ever 3D printed cave structures like this before in New Zealand.”

In the end, Barnett was able to 3D print three scaled-down (but still very large) models of the subterranean caves—a process which reportedly took roughly 1600 hours of 3D printing and 400 hours of post-processing. In order to print the caves, the 3D models also had to be broken down into 67 separate parts to fit onto the 3D printers, each of which took between 20 and 50 hours to print.

3D scan of a lava cave located next to a residential basement

In all, Barnett said he worked on the cave model project for two months before it was complete, often staying up till 3 am to wait for a finished print. “I'd have to get up, take the print off and initiate a new print,” he said. “This would definitely be one of the largest 3D prints in New Zealand ever done.”

The results of the time and labor, as you can begin to see in the photos, are both stunning and eery. “I am incredibly proud of what I produced because it was so difficult and it has a really interesting textural aesthetic to it,” added Barnett. “It gives you this really interesting visual representation where you understand the forms of how these caves are built up over time.”

At the Underworld exhibition at Silo 6 of the Wynyard Quarter, visitors can see the scaled down 3D printed representations of the lava caves, and some may even recognize the cave’s surrounding environments. (Notably, the group behind the project has not included specific street names or addresses of where the caves are located to discourage people from finding them and climbing down.)

Jason Barnett of 3D printing company Mindkits



Posted in 3D Printing Application

Source: Stuff


Maybe you also like:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive