Applied Rapid Technologies used DSM material and UnionTech RSPro600 to help iconic US landmark enhance visitor experience

Visitors to the Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington D.C. can now experience the fine architectural details of the building thanks to a 3D printed scaled model using a DSM additive manufacturing material.

Challenges

The Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington D.C. was built in 1899 and was the city’s main postal office until 1914. Since then, it has functioned as an office building and retail site until 2016 when it was refurbished as the Trump International Hotel. The external architecture of the building has remained largely the same since 1899 and features seven-story stone facades, a two-story chateau-like roof, lofty clock tower and the highly decorative arches. The imposing clock tower is open to the public as a visitor center and is managed by the National Park Service.

Speed and accuracy

“One of the advantages of the stereolithography process for this project, and in particular Somos® EvoLVe 128 and the UnionTech equipment, was speed and accuracy. We had only a three-week window to produce the model. Somos® EvoLVe 128 has good impact strength and flex so we didn’t worry about pieces breaking. The large-format capability of the UnionTech equipment, along with the Somos® EvoLVe 128 meant we could build complete sections, such as the roof in a single piece to minimize the number of cuts and parts.”

Bruce LeMaster, President, Applied Rapid Technologies

The Park Service is keen to offer the best experience to visitors of all of their properties. A 3D touchable model of the building was a component of the project. HealyKohler Design, brought on to design new exhibits, commissioned artist Clarence Schumaker from Daybreak Studios to take on the project. Schumaker needed to find a material that allows for the fine details of the building to be captured while being durable for public viewing. “Since the model was going to be touched and handled by the public, the biggest challenge was to find a way to represent the building’s highly ornate details in a durable, yet cost effective manner,” says Schumaker. “The small scale and capturing the intricate architectural features of the building meant usual methods, such as sculpting in epoxy clay, would not work.”

After looking at several different build solutions, including CNC routing, Schumaker decided to use stereolithography (SLA) to construct the model because the process was fast and SL materials could offer strength and the fine features needed for the project. Schumaker approached one of the first and leading SL service bureaus in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region, Applied Rapid Technologies (ART). ART suggested using Somos®EvoLVe 128, a durable SLA material that produces accurate, high-detailed parts. It is almost indistinguishable from finished traditional thermoplastics, which makes it perfect for making prototypes and withstanding constant wear and tear.

Solution

Schumaker and ART started off by designing and making a small 2×3-inch model with the Somos® EvoLVe 128. The Somos® material would be used to make the final model so they needed to test that it was strong enough and could replicate the architectural details of the building. ART had just installed a new UnionTech RSPro 600 SLA 3D printing machine at their facility with Somos® EvoLVe 128, which enables them to produce SLA parts quickly and with fine detail.

The final product was a 18x12x18-inch model made up of 10 separate components which Schumaker fixed together around a plywood and epoxy clay support structure.

The Somos® EvoLVe 128 material reproduced the fine architectural details which, as well as creating an accurate visual representation of the building, means visitors with limited sight get a similar experience through touch. The material finish makes it easy to paint which Schumaker did with water-based automotive acrylic paint and a clear top coat. The model of the Old Post Office Pavilion now resides in the Clock Tower of the Old Post Office Museum and is helping to improve the experience for visitors. As well as viewing the model visitors can also touch and feel the fine architectural detail that was originally designed and built back in 1899. It brings a brand new, hands on experience for visitors.

For more information about DSM Somos® Materials:

https://www.dsm.com/products/somos/en_US/home.html

For more information about Applied Rapid Technologies:

http://www.artcorp.com/

 

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UnionTech Somos Evolve RSPro600