Mixtec Stonecutting Artistry: 16th Century Ribbed Vaults in Mixteca, Mexico is on display in the Goldstein Museum of Design's HGA Gallery at Rapson Hall through October 13th. Researcher and guest exhibition curator, Benjamin Ibarra Sevilla (Assistant Professor, Architecture, CDes) will be giving an opening lecture Monday, September 16, 6pm in Rapson Hall 100.
Nicholas Kramer, a UMN Architecture student, shares with us the process behind the 3D printing of the models of the vaults and their keystones in the exhibition.
The models in the Mixtec Stonecutting exhibit are the product of many hours, many hands, and several different machines. Before the digital models existed, the only place to see these vaults was within their respective churches in Mexico. After many hours with a 3D scanner, they had literally been turned into clouds of points, inhabiting their respective places within a computer.
From the point cloud data, digital models of each vault were constructed, and the keystones extracted. Building and refining these models to the exacting specifications of the 3D printer took many months. The 3D printer requires the models to be "water tight", meaning they must be a complete solid with no bare edges. This can be difficult in such complex pieces. Since each model is a different size and has a different degree of complexity, the time it takes to print each piece varies tremendously.
Some of the pieces in the exhibit were printed overnight and took little interaction other than pressing the print button on the 3D printer, while others took upwards of two days to print and even longer to remove from the support material.
The process of creating these models was a tremendous challenge, but ultimately proved to be an invaluable learning experience. The most exciting thing for us is that the models provide the opportunity to see and study something many would never have been exposed to otherwise.
– by Nicholas J. Kramer, School of Architecture, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, B.D.A
Images courtesy of Nicholas Kramer and GMD.