Solid Terrain Modeling (STM) manufactures 3-dimensional relief maps similar to Google Earth® but physical pieces that you can touch and feel. These models allow people who have no experience reading engineering plans or topographic maps to have a personal view of an area in a natural way that can be interacted with.
Figure 1 – (Above) Solid Terrain Model of the Grand Canyon on display for the National Geographic Society
STM’s patented manufacturing process replicates the GIS satellite digital data of geographic terrain and turns it into physical 3D models. They designed and built their own CNC machines that directly read the geospatial elevation data and then cuts the terrain surface into a block of material.
STM also designed and built custom 7 axis CNC 3D inkjet printers that “fly” the inkjet heads right over the surface of the terrain model and prints high resolution imagery directly onto the physical 3D model. The results are astounding and a very accurate representation of the data.
Figure 2 – (Above) Solid Terrain Model of Mt. Everest with 7 axis print head
Figure 3 – (Above) The completed Solid Terrain Model of Mt. Everest
STM uses VisualMILL® for SolidWorks to assist in them with additional manufacturing operations such as mounting and routing for accessories like brackets, fiber optics, LEDs and other physical display components. The company also uses VisualMILL for other projects including prototype cutting of airfoils for aerospace applications and UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles (drones).
Figure 4 – (Above) The Machining Browser of the VisualMILL® plugin for SolidWorks (shown on the left) is used to generate and post process toolpaths directly on a SolidWorks part.
For more information
- If you are interested in learning more about Solid Terrain Modeling and how their manufacturing process works, have a look at the YouTube video.
- You can also watch Solid Terrain Modeling featured on the TV show How It’s Made and visit them on the web at http://www.solidterrainmodeling.com/.
- Click here for more information about the VisualMILL® for SolidWorks plug in.