At Behrends Group, we keep on top of the latest technological innovations to keep our products and processes both cutting-edge and the highest quality. Nowhere has innovation been more key as in the realm of 3D printing and its applications to our custom signage industry.
3D printing is the process of manufacturing solid objects from the creation of a computer-generated 3D file. The printing of such objects is done through an additive process, meaning that the material is successively layered again and again until the final project is created. Each of the layers functions as a horizontal cross-section of the overall finished product. It all starts with the virtual design of what you want to make, whether that be the creation of a new design or a scanned copy of another object. 3D modeling software then takes the design and slices it into thousands of those horizontal cross-sections which are each uploaded to the 3D printer. The printer reads each slice (as a 2D image) and then creates the layers that build up into an object with barely noticeable transitions between layers.
3D printers differ by way of their use of technology but virtually all of them employ this additive method. In terms of its application to the signage industry, nowhere is its potential felt more than in bronze casting. Typically, in terms of sculpture, a clay model is crafted first and is what the end-product will be formed from. A mold created from the clay picks up all of its subtle details and is applied in layers to capture the original surface.
3D printing eliminates the need to sculpt with clay by allowing for the design and creation of a model to be created in a completely digital process. The model is printed, then fitted with a silicone rubber exterior molding before being cast in bronze, as usual. The 3D printed model is lost in the process, just as the clay sculptures are lost in the traditional method. What remains is a beautiful, highly-detailed bronze sculpture that originated entirely from a professional designer’s imagination and vision. This need not only be applicable to sculpture but can revolutionize other bronze casting such as plaques and interpretive signage.