for the NMRA 2016 Convention
by SMARTT Inc.
SMARTT was getting ready to attend the NMRA Trade Show in Orlando in 2016 and we were re-vamping our display. The Boss wanted something new and different, something modern. So he googled "futuristic buildings" or something similar and paged through the images until he came up with the rendered image seen here. Thus found, he dropped it in front of me and said simply "I want that."
The single image of the building the Boss found was a render for a skyscraper with a mesh-like outer shell and a glass enclosed interior. Much later, I found out that this was for a building in Belgrade, Serbia. I do not know if it was ever built --- besides by me!
Since I only had the one image to work from, much of the dimensions and views from other angles had to be my speculation. I did not know how big the actual tower would have been, but I did need to fit a specific area that was vacant.
After a little research, I found that the best and fastest way to create the mesh-like structure was to use a 3D mesh modification technique to create a "Voronoi" shape, something that Meshmixer can do if the mesh edges are in the right places. I started in 3D Studio since it is a native mesh modeler, and built the various warped cylinder shapes, then used an offset of these to create the glass portions. There was certainly some trial and error involved in getting an aesthetically pleasing result. The resulting part set was printed up on the Projet 2500 and Form2 printers in the SMARTT lab and assembled and painted by the staff.
Next up was lighting. The building was eye-catching, but I wanted it to be an attention grabber. I designed a simple lighting system using Neopixels, addressable RGB color LEDs pre-mounted in a ring configuration. With Neopixels, every pixel can have a different color and can change colors but only two wires lead back to the Arduino micro-controller. A few test scripts and we had a color changing skyscraper that wowed the crowd! Mission accomplished!
Material: Prototype completely 3D printed in MJM acrylic and Form2 Clear resins, plus electronics
Approach: Completely Custom!
Client: SMARTT Inc
Autodesk 3D Studio Max
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