Creating 2.2-metre tall bronze statue using 3D printing technology

Working with the London Bronze Casting Company, the UK arm of voxeljet brought their 3D printing expertise to help produce ‘The Green Man’ – a project to commemorate the foundry that formerly operated in Deptford, London where he now stands. The form and shape of the statue is based on foundry worker, Bill.

To create the part, Sally and Vince (technicians at London Bronze Casting) 3D scanned Bill using a photogrammetry technique. The data was then manipulated in a variety of CAD programs to produce a final digital finish and look.

The figure of Bill carries two cast impellers (a rotor used to increase the pressure and flow of a fluid), a fitting reminder of the products that were formerly made on the site.

The 3D model was digitally split into the casting sections and 3D printed in PMMA on a voxeljet VX1000 PPB printer at our manufacturing facility in Milton Keynes, UK. PMMA is an acrylic material used in lost wax casting process. The PMMA print sections were then invested in a ceramic shell and cast in bronze.

The form itself was printed and then processed at London Bronze Casting, a foundry focused on research, innovation and craft to produce the final statue standing 2.2m tall and weighing 200kg.

After the assembly, welding & metalwork, a green patina was applied to transform the brown tone of the raw cast into a vivid Verdigris, a colour that all foundry workers turn by the end of a working day. Bill is the first ever PMMA-cast public sculpture in the UK.

Tom Winstanley, London Bronze Casting Company, says: “It’s a great moment for foundry in the art industry and design world, because artists and designers are quite curious about new technologies and they’re using computer aided designs and sculpting software more than ever before. Artists can collect and scan 3D objects and manipulate them like no other material without limits. voxeljet are very diligent and have a lot of time for us, just that noticing of what we need from the casting and the detail within all the projects has resulted in a great collaboration.”

James Reeves, voxeljet UK, says: “What I really like about the Green Man Project, is that it brings a digital aspect to a very analogue statue. It uses a traditional method of casting, but it’s using the very latest technology to create it.”