1 of 4
4. Liebknecht portal
2 of 4
3. Liebknecht portal
3 of 4
2. Liebknecht portal
4 of 4
1. Liebknecht portal
The experts at voxeljet are game for a challenge, but the industrial 3D printing machine manufacturer accepted that a request to print 100 sand moulds at sizes of up to 1.5 cubic cm was especially out of the ordinary.
This large order was related to the re-construction of the historic Liebknecht portal. The original portal from the old Privy Council building of the former German Democratic Republic will be housed in Berlin along with a 1:1 replica, which will be placed in the Berlin City Palace.
The idea behind this project is the desire to retain the originality and historic significance of the Privy Council building, while at the same time bringing the iconic Liebknecht portal to a new palace. But this project could only be realised with a copy that is true to the original sculpture.
So-named because it is where co-founder of the Communist Party of Germany Karl Liebknecht stood to address the Free Socialist Republic in 1918, the Liebknecht portal project presented the challenge for sculptors as they had to prepare an exact template with which to begin the production of the replica. Conventional techniques such as lamination were not available to the team as the original portal required delicate handling. Instead, the team decided to take the touchless 3D scanning route.
As such, the 3D scanning element of the portal project led the team to pursue 3D printing with sand - a method perfected by voxeljet.
Berlin-headquartered 3D scanning specialist TrigonArt led the 3D measurement element of the project, creating a high-resolution model of the portal out of individual scans. In addition, certain areas of the portal were prepared as separate 3D models and were prepared individually for production purposes.
The subsequent creation of the physical models using 3D printing was left to voxeljet, with the company's service centre in Augsburg taking on the challenge of recreating the portal.
A review of the data from TrigonArt indicated just how complicated this 3D printing job would be.
CEO of voxeljet Dr Ingo Ederer commented: "The entire order was comprised of approximately 100 individual jobs, including moulds measuring 1.5 x 1.0 x 1.0 m. We can also use our large-format printers to print larger components with a volume of up to eight cubic m, but we left it at a maximum of 1.5 cubic m so as not to limit the handling of individual components."
Where larger moulds were concerned, cut-outs for transport rings were made as part of the 3D printing process to assist with the logistics. These cut-outs could then be easily closed with corresponding plugs so the aesthetic of the copy would not be affected.
Happily, the expectations of all those involved in the Liebknecht portal were met thanks to the innovative 3D technology that helped bring the project to a conclusion.
"The copy of the historic portal is geometrically undistinguishable from the original. Print quality, precision and detail of the sand moulds are beyond any doubt thanks to the impressive high-performance of the VX4000 printer. Now it is up to the sculptors, who use the 3D print as a template for their work, to sculpt a perfect copy of the Liebknecht portal in sand stone," said organisers.