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Stratasys Direct Manufacturing bring 3D capabilities to Detroit stadia regeneration project

Date:2016-12-13 Hits:375

While 3D printing mightn’t be at a stage where it’s capable of building multi-purpose sports stadia as part of downtown regeneration projects, it’s certainly capable of ‘changing the game’.

The game in discussion is not ice hockey nor is it basketball, though certain players of those sports, namely Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons, will have themselves a new home come 2017, it is the design phase of stadia development.

Olympia Entertainment, the owner of the Red Wings and Pistons, is putting its ambitious plan to breathe life into downtown Detroit in place. A new stadium facility, Little Caesars Arena, is the centrepiece of The District Detroit, a 50-block mixed-used project. It will be made up of a mix of sports and entertainment venues, including six theatres and three multi-use sports venues.

Additionally, it will also boast residential, office and retail developments that connect these venues into one contiguous, walkable area. With six theatres, three sporting venues and a host of other properties, the project will generate new job opportunities, boost the economy and provide civic infrastructure to the home of the US automotive industry.

The delivery of this redevelopment project was significantly quickened thanks to the use of 3D printing. To drum up support for the project and illustrate their vision, Olympia Entertainment and local architectural design agency Zoyes Creative Group teamed up with Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. At the core of this multi-purpose infrastructure was two large 3D-printed scale models. The first, a detailed model of the arena itself, and the second, a miniature version of the entire 50-block district.

“That model actually puts you in real Detroit,” said Tom Wilson, President and CEO of Olympia Entertainment. “There’s no question that this was the game changer for us. We had a dream that within six months, we would be able to market all of our suites, and we would be happy with that. As it turned out, in 40 days, all of the suites were gone.

“You can always look at a rendering and you kind of get a feeling for how it is going to look, but it really doesn’t have the chance to come alive until you can put yourself and your clients in it.

“There’s telling the story, and then there’s being part of the story. When you see the model and the detail, the city comes to life.”

Zoyes Creative Group’s Imaging Director, Rich Rozeboom was responsible for converting basic renderings into printable files. Every piece had to be manipulated, and in some cases, reimagined to make these models come to life. This is where Stratasys Direct Manufacturing proved their worth, checking every file, amending any issues and providing an extra layer of quality control.

“Stratasys Direct Manufacturing has been key in helping us get through some of the project deadlines, as well as some of the larger print volumes that are associated with this type of build,” said Dean Zoyes, Co-Founder and President of Zoyes Creative Group.

With the files to hand, Zoyes set their own Stratasys printers to work, and enlisted the Direct Manufacturing group to cope with the sheer size, number of prints and level of detail that went into the scale models. This included intricate light columns and more than 20,000 individual people in their own seats, as well as huge sections of the arena.

“There was a lot of time pressure, from the stadium, from the city, from everywhere and Stratasys Direct Manufacturing jumped right into the water with us,” Rozeboom said. “The day we sent them our first files, they were printing. Four days later, they were shipping here.”

Such is 3D printing, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing was able to review printed pieces and make alterations when necessary, without affecting their timeline.

These intricate models worked as more than just a simple sales tool, helping to drive the project’s success, much of which is still yet to come.

Analysis by the University of Michigan estimates the project will ultimately generate over $2 billion in economic impact for the city, region and state of Michigan. So far, contracts worth more than $300 million have been awarded to Michigan-based organisations, with $200 million going to businesses based in Detroit.

“3D printing is all about turning an idea to into something tangible,” a Stratasys Direct Manufacturing case study concluded. “It seems fitting, then, that Stratasys Direct Manufacturing and 3D printing is playing such an integral part in rebuilding one of America’s greatest cities and injecting life into an arena set to open in 2017.”