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3D4E takes printing to another level

| February 7, 2018

USC Viterbi’s 3D Printing Club presents a heavily detailed three-dimensional map of USC’s campus.

3D4E unveils its detailed model of the USC campus at the Inter-Collegiate 3D Design Conference.
Credit: Tony Nguyen

Seeing is believing.  A model in three dimensions says more than a thousand renderings and drawings. Now, thanks to a historical achievement by USC Viterbi’s premiere 3-D printing club, 3D4E (or 3-D for Everyone), USC can boast having the first ever 3-D printed model of a college campus.

It’s been two years in the making, but when the 3-D printed map of USC campus was revealed on April 29th, the level of detail was breathtaking.

Brian Rohrlick was a sophomore majoring in architecture when he first started the project for 3D43E. Now, he’s a senior and standing tall above his creation.

As a future architect Rohrlick had been experimenting with 3-D printers and modeling software, but was looking for a way to work on something epic. He collaborated on the project with fellow architecture major and 3D4E member, Tony Nguyen.

The duo first began working on a less detailed, mass model of USC campus.

“We did not want to jump right into making as big of a project as it ended up being,” Rohrlick said.

Their first model, which was 16” x 12”, was less refined but included a lighting feature that allowed users to pinpoint dining halls, residences halls, or any subgroup of campus building with the press of a button.

This original model was ultimately displayed in the Tutor Campus Center, where it currently resides.

The team decided to take it a step further, creating what would become the first model of a university campus with this level of detail.

“We color-coded the buildings and assigned different people to certain buildings. We put all the finished buildings in red,” said Rohrlick who worked off of a 2-D map of USC campus.

A week’s worth of work, would yield three to four buildings out of the 150 campus buildings the team had to 3-D print.

The printing process was cumbersome given the level of detail the team was going for. They relied exclusively on the USC alumni-created Zues 3D printers that reside in Bridge Hall. An individual building would be printed in four to six hours.

“We usually put two to three models on the bay at a time for faster printing,” Rohrlick explained. That can take up to 12 hours because of the level of detail we put into each building.”

The Final 51” x 65” 3D model was finally revealed at the Inter-Collegiate 3D Design Conference on April 29th, 2017.  Billing itself as the 3-D printing club “for everyone”, the club used the opportunity to welcome students from any major who want to see their dreams fleshed out in 3-D printed reality.

“To our knowledge and based on our Internet research, this is the first map of its kind to be created of a college campus,” said Nikita Dhesikan, a USC Viterbi biomedical engineering student and 3D43 president. “It is a great accomplishment to be the first school to have a model like this.  It represents our campus well.”

The team intends to use the model for prospective students unfamiliar with the campus layout. They’re currently scouting for locations to house the campus model, ideally somewhere easily visible on campus.

“Our biggest hope is to have the model displayed in Doheny, one of the most iconic buildings at USC,” Rohrlick said.

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