Tag Archives: 3D printing

Local Artist Is Recreating Philadelphia on 3D Printer

Philadelphia artist Levi Buffman, also known as Doctor Octoroc, has already made a name for himself for building out of Legos a complete model of his home city. As impressive as an achievement as that was, however, Buffman wasn’t completely satisfied with his work: the restrictions of the medium he chose to work in led to inaccuracies in color and scale that he felt compromised the piece’s integrity. To fix this, Doctor Octoroc has once again set out to recreate his city on a smaller scale, using a medium that will allow him to finally capture every detail of it in miniature: 3D printing.

Rebuilding a City

As we’ve discussed before on this blog, 3D printing is a tool that is gaining in popularity among architects, engineers, and artists alike. Thanks to continuous new developments in the quickly developing technology, users are now able to create increasingly detailed and sturdy end products from nearly any material imaginable. This has led to the creation of plans for 3D printing to be used for everything from building bridges in Amsterdam to constructing affordable housing out of sand, and has even caused some to speculate that 3D printers could be used to build subterranean structures on Mars.

While Doctor Octoroc’s plans for the 3D printer are much more modest than building houses on another planet, they are still impressive. Starting with the 1600 block of Market Street, the artist plans to capture as many of Philadelphia’s skyscrapers, houses, and stores as possible, recreating them in full color sandstone. According to Octoroc, he has already printed the “block” containing Liberty Palace and the Westin hotel, and says that he is thrilled with the quality. More than that, he implies that he will be making his designs available for purchase to the public, along with the finished models.

Art and Computer Aided Design

To capture all the minute textures of a miniature urban landscape, Octoroc required a way to create highly detailed digital models of the city that could then be used as the basis for the final product. As such, he turned to CAD techniques pioneered by Ed Catmull, a pioneering computer scientist and the sitting president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. The method Doctor Octoroc is using calls for creating full texture maps of the landscape he wishes to recreate, followed by using vector painting to add the finished details. This process allows Octoroc to capture small details that, in his miniaturized version of Philadelphia, can be as small as one tenth of a millimeter.

In addition to making his designs available for sale, Doctor Octoroc is also updating the progress of his project on his Facebook page, allowing fans and onlookers to follow the project to completion and get a glimpse inside the creative process.

Here at Q-CAD, we have been using 3D drafting to create highly detailed architectural models for decades. To learn more about our process, contact us today at 800-700-3305.


  1. http://www.phillyvoice.com/local-artist-dr-octoroc-3d-printing-philadelphia-block-block/

City Skyline

City Skyline

3D Printing Helping Healthcare Providers Change Lives

While the innovations and changes that CAD software and 3D printing have allowed many industries to make certainly aren’t trivial, none of them may be more important than the ways that computer aided design technology is impacting the healthcare industry. Thanks to the use of CAD, and the ability to realize innovative designs through 3D printing, doctors and healthcare providers have been empowered to save lives and improve the way they care for their patients, as we discuss below.

Blind Mother “Sees” Unborn Child through 3D Ultrasound

Brazilian woman Tatiana Guerra has been blind since the age of 17. Because of her disability, she had been unable to see the ultrasounds of her unborn child, a boy she named Murilo. But thanks to the intervention of Huggies Brazil, Guerra was able to achieve the next best thing when she was given a 3D printed replica of her fetus, based on data collected from her ultrasounds. While she is still unable to see her son, she can now do the next best thing and use her sense of touch to feel how her new child is growing, where before she had to rely on other people’s descriptions of ultrasound data.

The model was made by 3D printing company The Goodfellas, and has the words “I am your son” inscribed in braille near the accurate mold of Murilo’s head, face, and upper body.

For Guerra, this printout is a chance to bond with her unborn son in a way that was not possible for her or other blind women before. For the healthcare industry in general, the replica of Murilo’s face represents a trend of 3D printing making physical models for medical purposes easier and more affordable to create.

Custom Airway Tube Saves the Lives of 3 Children

While Guerra’s story might be heartwarming and represent a future of improved patient care for the disabled and impaired, it hardly represents a medical breakthrough. The story of pediatrician Dr. Glenn Green and his team’s use of 3D printing in medical care, on the other hand, is a powerful example of how the technology can be used by doctors and care providers to save lives.

In 2013, Green’s team stunned the world by announcing that it had saved the life of an infant, Kaiba Gionfriddo, by treating the child’s compromised airway with an airway splint made via 3D printer. When treating children, doctors have long struggled with the fact that young children’s rapid growth can compromise the integrity and usefulness of medically necessary implants.

When children’s bodies grow and change over time, traditional implants need to be replaced, removed, and closely monitored, in case they end up presenting a threat to the child’s health. Dr. Green’s implant changed all this, by being designed to both change its shape over time as Kaiba’s body developed, and to dissolve harmlessly inside the body after a period of three years.

In April of this year, Dr. Green’s team released a new report, which not only detailed Kaiba’s successful recovery, but discussed the cases of two other young boys with the same condition whom were successfully treated with the same splint. Green has also announced that he and his team are working with the Food & Drug Administration to begin clinical trials, hoping to use the 3D printed airway splint on 30 more children.

For more information on CAD and 3D printing and how they are used, contact us today at 800-700-3305.

3D Printing in Medical Care

Amazon Makes Plans for Delivery Trucks Equipped with 3D Printers

As we’ve discussed in previous entries, 3D drafting is responsible for new levels of productivity and efficiency in design and manufacturing. From small batch artisans to large corporations, 3D printers are allowing CAD software-designed products to be created faster and with greater accuracy. As use of 3D printing technology expands, it will likely continue to have a large impact on many different industries for years to come.

One of the latest pieces of news detailing just how wide 3D printing’s influence spreads is the revelation that e-commerce giant Amazon has filed patents for 3D printing devices that can be installed directly into delivery trucks, creating a mobile fleet of vehicles that can produce and deliver products at the same time. Amazon has been experimenting with new delivery methods recently, including their much discussed plan to use a fleet of unmanned drones as delivery vehicles, but its 3D printer truck plans are an innovative way to combine two different, time-consuming processes into one.

Early Stages

While the company has not yet been awarded the patents for its proposed truck-mounted 3D printers, the prospect that combination manufacturing/delivery vehicles will soon be deployed by a company as large as Amazon is a fascinating one. The company has come to dominate online retail through its discount prices and fast delivery times. If Amazon does successfully create this new fleet of vehicles, it’s conceivable that they will be able to improve both, forcing competitors to adopt similar methods to be able to compete with Amazon in the e-commerce sphere.

In the documents discussing the patents obtained by The Wall Street Journal, Amazon says, “Time delays between receiving an order and shipping the item to the customer may reduce customer satisfaction and affect revenues generated.” If the integration of mobile 3D printing units into its delivery fleet does manage to reduce the time between when an order is placed and the product is delivered, it will set a new standard for delivery that customers will expect to be met. Furthermore, being able to assemble products in its delivery vehicles will reduce the amount of warehouse space Amazon needs to house its products, leading to the company being able to lower its prices even further.

Increased Manufacturing Productivity

Because of the wide variety of mediums that 3D printers can use, these proposed mobile manufacturing vehicles could impact the way many different items are created and delivered. While it’s likely that not every item in Amazon’s online store could be manufactured in such a way, those that could will be easier and cheaper to obtain. It will also likely make it easier and less expensive to receive replacement parts, which would be able to be printed on demand instead of obtained through the manufacturer as they are available.

Through the use of 3D printing and CAD software, Amazon is on the verge of creating a revolution in the way manufacturing and product delivery work. While the exact impact that the company’s plans make won’t be seen for several more years, other companies will probably start to follow Amazon’s lead, and find ways to incorporate digital design and 3D printing into their creation processes as soon as possible.

Want to learn even more about how CAD and 3D printing are impacting design and manufacturing? You can speak to a Q-CAD representative by calling 800-700-3305.


Consumer Grade Laser Cutters Making New Waves in Computer Aided Design

The rising popularity of 3D printing has increased the popularity of CAD drafting at the consumer level, inspiring craftspeople to start their own small businesses and one-person workshops. But 3D printers are not the only advanced design tools that are increasing the capabilities of individual artisans. Though less well known, laser cutters open up new design possibilities to their users, and one company has plans to start bringing these tools to market as a consumer item.

New Levels of Availability

Laser cutters have been used in the manufacturing industry for years, allowing designers to make precision cuts and etchings in almost any material, ranging from wood, to steel, to leather, and everything in between. Laser carving can be used to create much more intricate, complicated designs than can be created by hand, at a speed much faster than other kinds of manufacturing equipment. For most of their history, laser cutters have been mostly confined to the domain of industrial and professional grade operations, available only to companies with big money to spend on pricey equipment. Though as often happens in the sphere of personal computer technology, what was once a sealed off space will soon become available to regular consumers.

GlowForge, a Seattle startup, recently announced the successful creation and testing of what they call a “3D laser printer:” a consumer grade machine uses precision laser cutting to manufacture items that can be designed on a home computer. The company’s co-founder and chief executive, Dan Shapiro, has announced that GlowForge plans to sell its 3D laser printer at a market price of around $2,000, a much lower price point than what laser cutters are traditionally sold for. By making the technology available to a new market of home designers and small shop artisans, Shapiro hopes that GlowForge’s revolutionary new product will open up new creative possibilities for the average consumer or small businessperson.

“Your creativity [will no longer be] limited by tools,” Shapiro told the New York Times. “Drop [your material] in [the 3D laser printer], hit a button, and have something wonderful come out. You can hit the button once, and you can have something that’s amazing and personal and unique to you. You can hit the button ten times, and suddenly you’ve got presents for all your friends. You can hit the button a hundred times, and now you have a small business.”

New Uses for Computer Aided Design

Once GlowForge’s 3D laser printer hits the market, the average computer user will have a whole new world of design possibilities opened up to them. Because the 3D laser printer will allow individual consumers and small groups of likeminded creative people to manufacture their products with levels of precision that were never available to them before, GlowForge will also be broadening the spaces in which CAD software and other digital design technologies are used.

Designers and artisans that are too impatient to wait for GlowForge’s 3D laser printer to go on sale, however, may not have to wait for that to happen. Laser carvers are also popular tools in what have become known as “makerspaces,” open facilities that provide DIY designers and creators access to professional grade manufacturing tools. At Cambridge, Mass.’s makerspace DangerAwesome, chief executive Nadeem Mazen reports that his 3 laser cutters see 20 to 30 times more use than the facility’s two 3D printers, which are harder to use, have more restrictions on what material can be used in them, and take longer to print.

For more updates on the state of CAD, contact Q-CAD at 800-700-3305 today.


Innovative Products Being Made on 3D Printers

3D printers are one of the most exciting new products to come to market in the last few years. When combined with CAD drafting skills, 3D printing enables both small companies and individual consumers to create complex products that before could only be created with industrial-grade machinery. Some of the innovative products being created in the field of 3D printing include:

  • A home 3D printer you can buy piece by piece – One of the biggest barriers to widespread consumer usage of 3D printers is the price point. Many people who are interested in learning to use 3D printers and creating with them simply can’t afford to pay for one all at once. British publisher Eaglemoss is currently targeting those exact consumers, offering their Vector 3 3D printer in monthly installments of £6.99. While the 90 month timeframe is a big commitment, Eaglemoss’s plan to have would-be 3D printer users get pieces of a 3D printer shipped to them every month through a subscription to their 3D Create & Print partwork magazine is a big initial step toward making 3D printers a staple item in the average home.
  • Personalized bicycle helmets with built-in crumple zones – Sebastian Conran, the designer of the Vector 3 3D printer mentioned above that Eaglemoss is currently selling piece by piece, is also hard at work using his 3D printers to create the perfect bicycle helmets, ones that are designed to fit each individual user’s head, and which have impact-absorbing crumple zones built into their design to provide improved levels of protection. Conran compares his conception of these custom helmets to shoes – we’re used to buying shoes that come in sizes that are made to fit the particular shape of our feet, so why can’t we do the same for the bicycle helmets that can save lives and prevent serious injury? Using digital scanning to map out the exact shape of people’s heads, Conran is hard at work making that level of personalization the standard for the future of bicycle helmets.
  • Consumer grade 3D printers will allow the modification of home items – Conran and other 3D printing advocates are already imagining the evolution of the 3D printer from an industrial-grade tool for specialists, to a true consumer-grade product that can be used regularly in any normal household. One of the first things for which consumer-level 3D printers will likely be used is the creation of replacement parts for household items. Instead of shipping items through the mail or a delivery service, they can instead email the 3D plans directly to the consumer and have them be printed out in their own home.
  • CAD software and 3D printing could combine into a consumer revolution – With the widespread use and availability of computer aided design (CAD) software, the combination of both 3D printers and design programs on the consumer level could change the way products are manufactured and sold. With a few lessons or tutorials in CAD design, individual consumers can learn the basics of designing their own products and replacement parts for everything from furniture, to tools, to electronics. While each person’s level of design skills will affect what they can create for themselves, 3D printing is likely to open up many new doors to individuals and families to create their own products for less than the ones now available for purchase.

For more information on how CAD and 3D printers are being combined to innovate the design industry, contact Q-CAD today at 800-700-3305.