While the school year may be nearing a close, Brilliant Labs would like to invite you to be a part of our latest campaign: Collaborative 3D Printed Sculpture of Lord Beaverbrook.

We would like to tell you all about the humble beginnings of this project, but many of you are likely simply looking for the registration link to get printing. Please click here to register for your part.

Project History

Last September, Brilliant Labs traveled down to World Maker Faire in New York. There, we met many, fellow 3D printing aficionados in the 3D Printer village. The guys behind one particular social innovation initiative really intrigued us. Todd Blatt and his team at were showcasing their own Collaborative 3D Printed Sculptures of Benjamin Franklin and Edgar Allen Poe.

We were instantly awestruck by the colourful tapestry of interconnected 3D printed pieces from across the United States. Each collaborator was sent a unique part of these sculptures at which point they could choose the colour of filament that they wanted to use to produce their component. Needless to say, our Lord Beaverbrook project was born on that day.

Upon returning home to Fredericton, NB, we quickly connected with some partners to begin this exciting initiative. Our friends Kevin Gallant (Professional Engineer at NBCC Miramichi) and Christina Thomson (Outreach Coordinator at Beaverbrook Art Gallery) have been instrumental in getting this project off the ground.

Newcastle Beginnings

Lord Beaverbrook (b. Max Aitken) quickly became a humble business tycoon, well known across Canada and around the world. Wikipedia has a great article on the first Baron of Beaverbrook – we suggest you have a look. A avid lover of the arts and culture in New Brunswick, Lord Beaverbrook devoted a wealth of time and resources to commemorating some of his favourite pieces. Upon his death, Lord Beaverbrook was commemorated in bronze in his hometown of Newcastle, New Brunswick.

Before we can get to the point of 3D printing a piece of the final statue, we needed a physical model to in which to base our digital intermediate model. Realizing that we were interested in 3D scanning, Kevin Gallant suggested we set students up with a 3D scanner to begin this process. Students from Ashley Hallihan’s grade 11 Make course took the scanner out to the town-square in Newcastle to capture the first digital file of Lord Beaverbrook. Unfortunately this exciting activity produced primitive results. In order to produce a refined scan that could be sliced and sent out throughout New Brunswick, we decided to team up these students with a professional graphic designer who specializes in 3D game design at the Miramichi campus of NBCC.

Using a series of archival footage and photos of Max Aitken, as well as the original scan from the bronze sculpture, the team of students and graphic designers at NBCC were able to produce a high quality, 3D digital file of Lord Beaverbrook, worthy enough to be shared with the larger 3D printing community across New Brunswick.

The Slicing Begins

We were very thankful to for recommendation of the free 3D Slicing tool: NetFabb Basic. This easy to use software allows a user to slice a .stl / .obj file in any XYZ plane. Unfortunately, there are some limitations with the free version.

Our first attempt at slicing the good Lord B, resulted in .stl files that were too large. When attempting to print one of the first sliced pieces for a Makerbot Replicator 2, we found that it filled the entire print volume and even printing at a modest 3% infill would take the better part of a day to print one single piece. With over 74 pieces, this was not going to be the easiest collaborative print for our school based printers.

While relatively easy to complete, the slicing process took time. The second slicing episode took around 5 hours of screen time. Most of that time was developing a rhythm to slicing since there is no easy way to ‘undo’ mistakes in NetFabb Basic.

One of the secondary goals to this project is raise awareness and excitement around the surprisingly large 3D printing community in New Brunswick. We knew that if the .stl files were too large, that many schools would not be able to participate in this project. Therefore, we looked at the build volumes of the printers in our schools and decided that no, one piece should be larger than the smallest build volume of one of the printers found in our schools.

Incredibly, schools across New Brunswick have a range of diverse 3D printers. Ranging from larger format SeeMeCNC printers to all sizes of Makerbots, down to our favourite entry level micro M3D printers. The smallest build volume is just over 14 cm cubed. This would become the baseline volume of each, individual component of our Collaborative Lord Beaverbrook Sculpture. We were happy with this decision, however it resulted in a higher number of individual pieces = a whopping 204.

Of course, the total number of pieces could have been lower, but we want Lord Beaverbrook to be larger than life. When completed, this collaborative sculpture should be one meter in height.

Final Presentation Site

As you can imagine, the Beaverbrook Gallery in Fredericton is particularly excited about this project. They have agreed to host the final sculpture in their beautiful renovated gallery as soon as all of the pieces are collected and assembled.

For more information on this project, please feel free to contact the project manager:

#3Dprinting #Crowdsourced #LordBeaverbrook #MVHS #NBCC #LordBeaverbrookArtGallery #Art #Museum

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