Almost a year ago, we got wind of an immense 3D printing undertaking in Nevada: the new Allegiant Stadium, soon to be the home of the Las Vegas Raiders (formerly Oakland Raiders) NFL team, was installing a giant 3D printed structure to commemorate the late Al Davis, a long-time owner of the Raiders team. The planned structure, an 85-foot-tall memorial torch, was even slated to become the world’s largest 3D printed structure.
At the time, only a few details about the project were released: information about who was behind the large-scale 3D printing effort was still under wraps. Despite this, we picked up on a clue. In May 2019, roughly six months before the memorial torch project was announced, Dimensional Innovations, a Kansas-based sign design and fabrication firm, acquired a $2.2 million Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) 3D printer from Thermwood to work on a “top secret” project. When we heard about the NFL stadium, we speculated whether the two could be connected.
It turns out our speculations were correct! Dimensional Innovations has today announced that it is indeed behind the massive structure, which in its finished form measures 93 feet in height. The Al Davis Memorial Torch stands over nine-stories tall and is now awaiting the official designation of world’s tallest 3D printed structure. The impressive installation, which majestically towers over the stadium’s lobby, is made of 225 3D printed blocks made of a carbon fiber-reinforced polycarbonate composite.
Each block reportedly weighs about 350 pounds, and over 100,000 pounds of raw material were used to construct the torch’s many pieces. The blocks were printed on the large-scale LSAM system and were subsequently machined to achieve tight tolerances. The 3D printed structure was ultimately covered in a reflective metal surface made up of 1,148 surface panels (each a unique shape to form to the torch’s contour) made of 35,000 pounds of raw aluminum. These panels were robotically painted and finished for a reflective sheen; some were emblazoned with the Raiders’ logo. The bottom of the torch underwent a slightly different finishing process: it was clear coated to display a “21st century woodgrain” texture which was the result of the CNC routing process on the 3D printed composite.
“Our team has worked relentlessly over the past year to develop, print, fabricate, test and install the memorial torch to ensure it conveys the symbolic flame that burns brightest in the Raiders organization,” stated Tucker Trotter, CEO of Dimensional Innovations. “The enormity of the torch, both physically and ideologically, will carry on the memory of Mr. Davis for years to come and we’re proud to have played a part in that.”
The commemorative spirit of the structure was realized through a close collaboration between Dimensional Innovations and Mark Davis, the son of Al and the Raiders’ current owner, and other organization leaders. Other partners on the project included Manica Architecture, which designed the stadium and the concept for the torch; Ultratech Aerospace; A. Zahner; Bob D. Campbell, who worked on the structural engineering of the torch; Astound Group; and Purdue University. Dimensional Innovations said its team spent nearly 50,000 hours developing, manufacturing and installing the structure—a feat they should be very proud of and which Raiders fans will appreciate for years to come.
“Al Davis maintains a significant and lasting influence on the Raiders organization, so we knew his legacy needed to shine bright at their new stadium in Las Vegas,” said Justin Wood, Sports Practice Director at Dimensional Innovations. “Building the torch was a significant undertaking and one we knew was important to get right. We’re thrilled with the final result and the homage it pays to Mr. Davis.”
The 3D printed torch and new Allegiant Stadium are both now complete. Raiders (and 3D printing) fans will be able to see the inspiring structure in the off-season as well as during Raiders home games.
[Edit on September 23, 2020 to clarify that the Las Vegas Raiders were formerly the Oakland Raiders]