Personal Project #6 – 3D Model of Gasson Hall, Boston College

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Unlike most personal projects I’ve worked on, PP #6 never had an initial project announcement, because I thought the project would finish relatively quickly, and I would post an extended explanation of the project shortly afterwards. That proved to be not the case, as I am finally wrapping up the project now.

PP #6, or the Modeling of Gasson Hall for 3D printing was started in August of 2014. As of this moment, the model has gone through 41 revisions, the last 10 of which involved window corrections in order for the online repair tool to correctly repair the model. The model, as far as I am concerned is complete, but to be honest, I have been saying that since v20, only to eat my words as I’ve continued to notice errors with the model, as well as additional details that I wanted to add later. This project was not worked on continuously, but was a kind of on, kind of off sort of thing, due to the time conflicts I had with college. Much of the work on the model was accomplished during vacations.

The initial start of this project was brought on by Boston College’s acquisition of a 3D printer, a Makerbot Replicator 2.

I first attempted to find a model for the building online in order to print it, but to my dismay, no models of the buildings on campus existed, except for one.

Alberto Mendoza, a Technology Consultant for the Boston College Libraries modeled a very basic version of the building, which captured the very broad outlines of the building, but lacked a large amount of detail critical to capturing the essence of the building. His website and model.

If you’ve ever played any sort of game that relies on textures instead of individually modeling each part, there’s a good reason for that, and I learned that the hard way through the modeling process. Modeling each individual part of the building is an awful experience, requiring significantly more resources for things that aren’t really required, not to mention that the 3D printer I am currently using cannot print at the level of detail required to display the details i have put in.This increase in complexity unsurprisingly complicates finalizing the model, and I had many instances of accidentally erasing an entire wall while fixing a window in sketchup.

One of the cool things about having a model of Gasson is that you can view it from all sorts of angles, especially the top. Due the sheer size, many people don’t usually observe Gasson top down, and it’s pretty interesting just to get a new perspective on the building.

For the design process, I had to take a lot of reference shots in order to replicate the details into my model. During the process, I realized that these shots were not enough, and I eventually had to go back two more times in order to get proper shots. I was very appreciative of the Alumni Association at Boston College, which had some wonderful shots of the belltower , which proved to be difficult to capture from a ground perspective with my cell-phone camera. Most of the images I took for reference can be found below.

Gasson Hall Reference Images

The first “successful” print had a few issues, the most notable of which was the lack of turrets at the top of the bell tower. The printer had an issue and just printed floss at the top, so sadly, the turrets were not included. This model was printed using Makerbot Translucent PLA. To test the ease of painting the model, several coats of Tamiya Silver/Gray was airbrushed onto the model. While a casual glance at the results looks good, a closer look revealed that the paint had difficulty in adhering to the corners and edges, as evidenced by the last shots in the gallery that follows.

A gallery of the first model can be found below.

Gasson Hall Successful Print

In an attempt to resolve the turrets not printed, I printed the model as big as possible. The extruder became clogged at relatively the same place for the two big prints. These sad models can be viewed below.

Big Gasson Failures

These early printed models had many errors, such as windows not printing correctly due to how netfabb went about repairing the model. If you look closely at the big unfinished airbrushed print, you can see details like the window panes shown in some windows, where as some are simply missing.

I went back into the model and fixed a lot of the issues, and got the turrets printed. More observant readers might notice that the color of the model changed from clear filament to silver. This is because I used a different PLA filament. This new filament was from Coex, and was the color was “Metalized Silver PLA”. It doesn’t show too well on the picture but there are small sparkles inside.

A few shots of that smaller model can be found below.

Gasson Hall Tiny Print

A few more models of the exact same size were printed, but each at a different temperature. (230, 215, and 210C). This was because I wanted to see how the temperature affected the print. 210C appeared to be the best out of the three models. These models can be seen below, but I honestly don’t remember which is which. The actual ones have the temperature hastily scrawled in blue expo marker on the base.

Gasson Tiny Comparative Prints

I then printed the model in the biggest size possible. This one came out a success and I took it around campus, comparing the model against the building itself. These were the most interesting shots out of all of them, and by far my favorite, especially the last one. They can been seen below.

Big Gasson Meets Real Gasson

Since that model, more details, like gutters, AC units, and chimneys have been added, as well as a lot of model repairs that cannot be seen in the print, but fixes miscellaneous issues with the model.

Currently, the latest model is printing, and if this model prints fine, then this project will be completed. Here are some shots of the Makerbot printing it.:

Big Gasson v2 Print

Where this project is going:

PP#7: Gasson Chocolates. You can make chocolates using 3D printed parts, silcone molds, and chocolate. In this upcoming personal project, I investigate the feasibility of making Gasson Chocolates, and chocolates made out of silicone molds of 3D printed parts. Makerbot has an article about it here.

Possible Additional Research Paths:

Cast Gasson Hall in Aluminum.

Tools used:

Sketchup – Modeling Software with a lot of extensions.

Netfabb – 3D Model Repair.

Random Details:

Size of Sketchup File: ~110 MB

My computer speed trying to model/correct the model: Very very slow

Amount of time spent on the project: Unable to give estimate, but too many hours.

Number of Revisions: 40+

Cost of Filament: ~$23 (1kg spool)