SolidWorks, 3D Printing and baseball, sounds like an odd combination. SolidWorks and 3D printing work hand in hand together but baseball throughs a wrench into the title. On a recent project however they did all fit together, quite nicely actually.
It all started at SolidWorks World. I was approached by Objet to create a solid model of Fenway Park for the centennial celebration (1912-2012). The timeline was tight and I knew creating a model of a 100 year old baseball park wouldn’t be easy. To make things more difficult we didn’t have a whole lot of information on the park itself. Having lived in New England all my life, being a Sox’s fan and knowing that Fenway was/is an iconic part of baseball history I’d could say, “no”.
Step one was to research Fenway Park and find some construction drawings if possible. Objet was able to provide a hand full of construction drawings for portions of the park but there wasn’t enough information there to create a model. I was able to connect with Sean Patrick Holland from Virtual Fenway. Seann would call himself a Fenway expert. I’d call him a Fenway FANatic. Either way he knows a lot about the park. Sean was able to provide me with an entire “footprint” layout of the park and almost 1000 pictures to reference. The other large info resource I used was Google Earth. Combining information from these three resources and filling in the blanks myself I moved to step two.
Step two was determining the layout of the park and the scale at which the printing would happen. The printed model would be about 3’ wide and 5’ long. This meant an element 24” x 24” in actual (real life) size would print at about 1/8” x 1/8”. The solid model would have to be adjusted so specific details smaller than 24” x 24” could be printed. I had the needed drawings, pictures and scale adjustments, time to start modeling.
I decided the best method for this purpose would be to model the park as one large part file. I would then model the park lights (for night play) separately and combine the park and light models together in an assembly. The park model finished with 860 total features and takes about 32 seconds to rebuild. I started by creating the footprint layout, sketching the field layout, adding the seating areas and building “up” from there. Once I had the “base” model created I kept working my way around the model refining down the detail until it was at an acceptable level for printing. Overall it took about 7 days to complete the entire model. Download the e-drawing of Fenway Park.
Once complete the model was sent to Objet so they could work their STL magic and start printing. You can read about that process and find out more about the 3D printed model on their blog.
This was a great project to work on. Modeling an entire ballpark which basically takes up an entire city block certainly isn’t the normal type of work a SolidWorks user would encounter. SolidWorks worked great as a general modeler in this situation though and my background in architecture made it a bit easier as well. All that’s left to do now is, PLAY BALL! 😉