Potomac Photonics Micro-3D Prints Map of UMBC 4,000x Smaller than the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Campus
July 1, 2014, Baltimore, MD: Potomac Photonics, an industry leader in micro Digital Fabrication including 3D Printing, has 3D printed a tiny map of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County [UMBC] Campus at 1/4,000 of its original full scale. Potomac used a model generated by aerial robotic photography for the digital source of the 3D printing data. The work was part of Ecosynth, an open source project at UMBC in which 3D models of terrain are created from photography taken by small radio-controlled [RC] aircraft for the main purpose of ecological study.
Using a camera mounted on a robotic Octo-copter, UMBC mechanical engineering students Stephen Gienow and Lindsay Digman took over 5,000 photos in three consecutive flights with the 8-propellered helicopter. To traverse the entire campus and take all the photos took over an hour. The students explain: “The Radio-controlled copters fly a grid pattern, all the while taking thousands of photographs which completely blanket the terrain. These photographs are then digitally processed using the software Agisoft Photoscan, building 3D geometry from the thousands of photos.”
Potomac then 3D Printed the final 3D map that had 10 centimeter per pixel resolution, and approximately 10 meters of GPS accuracy. A high resolution ProJet 3D printer manufactured by 3D Systems had fine enough resolution to 3D Print a miniaturized representation of the UMBC campus from the map. President and CEO Mike Adelstein comments that “the miniature buildings and landscaping they were able to 3D Print are a natural extension of our work creating micro-parts for the medical device, sensors, microelectronics, microfluidics, consumer and biotech industries.”
Mr. Adelstein adds, “This cool project that combines robotics, 3D modeling, and 3D Printing is part of our Education Manufacturing Initiative, whereby we donate or discount digital fabrication services including 3D Printing, laser and CNC micromachining, and other technologies to researchers, faculty and students at universities who need manufacturing assistance.” He goes on to explain that supporting STEM education is also a big contribution to the economic development of the community. “It’s gratifying to help Stephen and Lindsay who are working to leverage their experience into a small business which offers 2D mapping, 3D scanning, and miniature landscape printing services.”
About the Micro 3D Printing Project Participants
Potomac Photonics, Inc. provides micro digital fabrication contract services including 3D Printing, laser micromachining, micro CNC machining, and hot embossing for prototypes to production. The Baltimore-based company is an authorized re-seller of 3D printers from the 3D Systems Corporation and offers extended in-house service of the machines.
Stephen Gienow is pursuing his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from UMBC and plans to graduate in spring 2015. He has been an intern for Ecosynth since 2012 and is experienced with designing, building, and piloting multicopters as well as generating 3D terrain maps from multicopter imagery. Stephen is the former president of DEVICE, UMBC’s inventors’ club. He hopes to use his degree to build a career in unmanned aircraft.
Lindsay Digman is a Mechanical Engineering undergrad at UMBC and plans to graduate in Fall 2015. She was an intern with Ecosynth in 2013 where she gained experience building, testing and piloting multicopters. Lindsay is also the current president of DEVICE, UMBC’s inventors club. She hopes to have a career working with robotics and to potentially become a successful entrepreneur in the STEM fields.