Sometimes a scale model is more interesting before it is painted and detailed, rather than after. This is a model of a generator, which will be part of a larger model of an ESS (expandable shelter system). Looking at the unfinished model allows the observer to notice the variety of materials used in its construction.
OK. Maybe the scale model looks better when it IS finished….
Today in the shop our model makers are carving foam. That can only mean one thing – besides a mess – a topography model! A topography model depicts the 3D nature of a particular terrain, accurately recording elevation levels and identifying specific land forms.
A topography site plan is used for this project.
The site plan is then transferred to a foam block for carving. While in the past topographic models were layered up, using cork, mat board or foam core, modern techniques use the opposite process. Starting with a foam block, the relief is then carved out of the solid piece with a router. The depth that the router plunges into the foam is determined by the scale being used on the map. Different colored lines on the map represent different elevations. Once the routing is complete the different steps created in the foam are then sanded down to make a smooth transition in elevation levels.
The foam will then be painted, roads glued down and the remaining surface flocked.
KiwiMill recently shipped out a spacecraft model of the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission. This is a NASA launch set for 2014, where 4 identical spacecraft will be sent in a capsule to probe Earth’s magnetosphere. http://mms.gsfc.nasa.gov/.
The cone of the model was vacuum formed and laser cut ribs were later added to the inside. On the outside of the cone, ribbed sheet stock was used. The solar panels are decals. The 4 spacecraft housed inside the cone were molded and cast out of resin, complete with their instruments.
Our shop has been working on a project that involves extensive use of 3D mechanical drawings. The scale model, an asphalt plant, will be 7 feet tall when completed. The size and structure of the scale model requires it to support its own weight and traditional model making materials would not be appropriate. Sheet metal will be used instead, and the parts need to be sent out of the shop to be laser cut and bent.
Model makers typically design a project as they build it, problem solving, adjusting and refining their techniques as they go. As craftspeople, they can transform a rough idea into something both accurate in design and beautiful to behold. The sheet metal parts are being sent to a laser cutter unfamiliar with the project’s nuances, so more precise, documented dimensions are needed.
Using a program called Autodesk Inventor, our model makers have drawn up the sheet metal parts on the computer to be sent to the laser cutter. Then the parts will be bent next door at Clad Industries. The finished pieces will arrive back to the model shop for assembly and detailing. Check back for pictures of the finished scale model!
Our model makers built a Tactical Airport Surveillance Radar model series for ITT. This particular design is called the TASR-2020. Using photo-like images for reference, the majority of the pieces were made out of brass for strength, beauty and longevity. The CNC mill was used to cut the brass parts which were then soddered together. The fixed location unit was built mostly of styrene, which is a more flexible, durable material than plexiglass. The radar dishes were motorized to attract attention at trade shows.
For the final trade show display at CES , our model makers purchased a collection of real casino props to create this vingette of a Las Vegas casino including felt table tops, a working roulette wheel, authentic poker chips and professional card decks. The chips were stacked on a rod and mounted permanently to the display with the playing cards and roulette wheel. The highlight of this display was the refurbished slot machine. The guts of the slot machine were dissembled and extensive electronic reengineering applied to the interior parts in order to fully automate the game. Details on this rebuild can be found at our how-to tutorial: http://ammodel.com/Default.aspx?tabid=439&Article=245.
Our model makers designed a trade show display that evokes the atmosphere of a night club for the Kodak trade show booth at CES 2011. Laser cut acrylic formed the shelving to hold 3 lava lamps with custom built bases and off-the-shelf bubbling towers. A small turn table rotated a tray of mixed drinks made of hand poured and tinted silicone. A martini glass was constructed from slumped plexiglass with a turned ren board olive. Christmas string lights were rewired and installed underneath a milky plex floor to simulate dancing floor lights. Two custom ipods were installed into a mixing board with moving lights.
Model maker Mike built these cutaway scale models of MedClean sanitizing systems. Used as a sales tool, they were created from off-the-shelf Peterbilt trucks. A cutaway design shows the sanitizing components mounted to the trailer floor. The components were made from a rubber molded resin material. Using ready-made models as a basis for a custom job can be appealing to our customers who are looking to save money and/or time with their scale models.
The shop has been busy in the New Year building an industrial model of a cooling system for a server facility. It will be used as a sales model by our client, APC.
Update:Check out the last 4 pictures.
Rarely will a model be damaged in transit. They are packed with extreme care. While shipping companies vary in their reliability, regardless of using UPS, USPS or Fed Ex, occasionally a model does arrive to the client with problems, no matter how well packed. It’s a frustrating part of the business, but model makers know how to fix their creations. Short of handling the delivery personally, which can be done in some instances, this is just another challenge in a model maker’s day.
Tasked with creating a sports themed display model for Kodak and Burton Snowboards, KiwiMill model makers sculpted 15 lb foam into a mountain. Off-the-shelf snowboard figures from Freestyle Max were animated using imbedded cams and levers to simulate sliding and twisting motions, as well as chain and gears to create the effect of grinding on a rail. Computer muffin fans were used to blow chrome ribbon in tubes to suggest wind and snow. A small fan placed inside a model of a snow gun provided breeze to blow decorative flags.
The Team at KiwiMill was asked by their client to create a scale model of Times Square to be used in a Kodak trade show booth at CES. The model makers used Google Earth to download pictures of this NYC icon. Looking at commonly sized objects in the photos such as people, windows, doors and vehicles, the team was able to estimate measurements for the buildings. The model was built primarily of styrene and acrylic, in N scale (1:160). Graphics were then added by using images off the internet, including vector logos, resized to meet the needs of each structure. Finally, a miniature 1.8 inch video screen was imbedded into the model, hooked up to a DVD player.
KiwiMill created 4 distinct model displays for our client, MSM, designers of the Kodak trade show exhibit at CES 2011. The purpose of the displays were to highlight the motion capture abilities of newly introduced cameras. Trade show participants could explore highly visual scenes through the camera’s lens while visiting the Kodak booth.
Our model makers were given the task of designing four separate model displays incorporating motion, color, lights and intriguing visuals. The themes were the following:
a realistic miniature scale model of Times Square
a vignette of real objects in a Las Vegas casino
a stylistic sculpture evoking the atmosphere of a night club
a whimsical display capturing a snowboarding sports scene
The Patriot MIM-104 is a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system used by the United States Army and many other nations. The prime contractor for this system is Raytheon. You can read more about this system here.
This scale model was built mostly from scratch with one exception. The cab and chassis are a die-cast model that we used as a starting point for the truck in the pictures. When a high-quality mass-produced model is available in the proper size, we will often use it as a starting point for out model. Not only does this save a lot of time, a mass-produced kit often has small, high-detail parts included that would be cost-prohibitive for our customers. When a model is mass-produced (in the 10,000s or 100,000s) the small details can be injection molded. The injection molding process has high up-front capital costs but low per-piece costs for large runs.
The tires were designed in CAD and then output to our in-house rapid prototyping machine. They were then molded in RTV silicone and cast with urethane resin.
We used 3D CAD geometry supplied by our customer to design and fabricate this model.
More than 50% of the parts on this model were drawn in CAD and output to our 36″x24″ laser cutter/engraver. We use this not only to cut the shapes we need in various plastics, but also to add details by engraving the surface.
Small parts, including the hand rails and round rods are made of brass and are often brazed or soldered for strength.
Structural parts of this model such as the trailer chassis are made from brass to create a strong base for the rest of the details.