Dimensional Innovations, the Kansas-based company responsible for 3D printing the 93-foot-tall Al Davis Memorial Torch for the new Allegiant Stadium in Nevada (home of the Las Vegas Raiders), has been put to work again, this time delivering a series of large-scale 3D printed benches for the IDS Center in Minneapolis. The organically shaped 3D printed furniture complements a new design in the building’s popular Crystal Court atrium.
Located in the atrium of the IDS Center skyscraper, the Crystal Court has undergone various iterations since it was built half a century ago, but its aim has always been to provide visitors with a sense of calm and nature. Today, a new contemporary design has been put in place, featuring an infinity pool, ficus trees and 3D printed seating. The seating, designed by LA-based Jonathan Olivares in partnership with Perkins&Will, was inspired by nature, specifically the curving, water-ridged form of river rocks.
“The furniture plays a really integral role; they bring a kind of nature vibe (to the space) and (their forms) have a basis in river rock typology,” explained Paul Martin, Director of Advanced Manufacturing Solutions at Dimensional Innovations. “The rounded edges are something that Jonathan had input on. A colleague of his in Europe developed a computer program to generate the (3D) forms that were then used to develop the design.”
Despite the minimalist look of the benches, a lot of work went into their production. Dimensional Innovations put its $2.2-million-dollar Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) system from Thermwood to work, bringing the digital designs to life. The machine, capable of printing large-scale structures and objects, is typically used in combination with CNC machining to produce smooth, precise dimensions. In this case, however, Dimensional Innovations and the bench designers leaned into the natural texture of the 3D printer.
“This (project) has been interesting, because normally when we think about using the 3D printer, we’re going to print something and machine it, and then we get this perfect surface,” said Brandon Wood, Innovation Lab Manager at Dimensional Innovations. “But for this project, we wanted to expose this 3D printed line. And so, we’ve had to design around what these printed layers will look like.”
The benches were 3D printed from PLA, an eco-friendly biopolymer that can be recycled. This material was selected due to the project’s natural inspiration. Interestingly, Dimensional Innovations says it is working on a pilot recycling project with ORNL, through which it is sending its 3D printing waste to the lab so it can be repurposed and turned into fresh pellets.