Has 3D Printing Killed Traditional Model Making?

Model making is a powerful tool and is used across many industries. The evidence is all around us – whether in the form of an architectural model for property developers and architects, a display and signagefor a trade show, a sculptural piece for an art exhibition or that stunning window display in your favourite large department store. All these wonderful props and pieces fall into and out of, the wonderful world of model making.

But what of the model makers themselves, the teams behind the scenes in workshops and studios filled with various materials in odd shapes and sizes, large laser cutting machines and 3D printers? Do they just simply press a few buttons and a computer does the rest?

3D printing has certainly revolutionised the industrybut it was feared that it would also trigger the demise of traditional methods and craftsmanship.

Well just like traditional books in a world of on-line literature and vinyl records in a world of free music streaming, there is still the demand for the ‘real thing’.

The most talented, creative model makers today embrace the new machinery and technological advances whilst holding on to traditional skills using hand held tools and creative thinking. The combination of the two is a winner! Not anyone can prepare a file for 3D printing or CNC machining, it takes knowledge and skill and the ability to understand build orientation – to see in 3D!

I recently came across work from a well-known model maker London, Robert Danton-Rees who has earned the reputation of being a 3D visionary within the model making industry. He is also a strong believer in traditional values andproblem solving using old fashioned tools and methods.

One of his pieces caught my attention at a Somerset House exhibition for the London Design Week. It was a bespoke made sky rail, which displayed and slowly revolved graphic artwork on a trolley system. I later found out that the exhibitor needed a sky rail system but did not have a huge budget to buy such a thing (this sort of apparatus retails at around £20,000.

Robert went back to the drawing board and thought about how he could produce such a bespoke piece on a next to nothing budget and the result was amazing. By ‘thinking outside of the box’ he produced afully functional, bespoke fitted sky rail, made from bits and pieces such asskate board wheels, bicycle chains, bespoke cut trolley cogs and a curtain rail. It was a huge success andwas the centrepiece to thedisplay; rotating informative graphics ofcutting edge sports wear designs from  brands such as Speedo and Lacoste.

So, going back to evolving technology within the model making industry – it’s not about the computer systems and the machines but all about the people who program the machines; the creative teams, the skilled craftspeople, the thinkers, the do-ers, who continue to produce models that effectively communicate an idea or a concept. These people are the reason the model making industry is going from strength to strength.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *