New York City Fire Museum Showcases Highly Detailed Ground Zero Model, Created with Z Corporation 3D Printer

There are as many ways to interpret 9/11 as there are people who experienced that horrible day, whether up close or at a distance. One man’s preference is documenting Ground Zero, in painstaking detail, before the attack, after the twin towers had fallen, and today, now that the site is being rebuilt.

David Munson’s amazingly detailed three-part model “WTC Triptych” is on display now at the New York City Fire Museum in Manhattan’s Soho district. With each model measuring 17 inches x 17 inches, it was created on a Z Corporation 3D printer, which creates physical objects from 3D data (much as a document printer creates business letters from word-processing files).

“There are many wonderful writings, photos and artwork that interpret 9/11,” said Munson. “I think it’s also important to document the totality of it as objectively, realistically and completely as possible, with a minimum of poetic license and a devotion to detail, on a scale the average person can absorb. These are my strengths, and this is my small contribution to ensuring people never forget.”

Munson, with a background in producing construction documents, owns the Munson3D architectural visualization company, and is a specialist in precise, complex representation. He drew from numerous data sources to create “WTC Triptych,” including 2D satellite imagery, Google Earth, photographs (personal and downloaded from the Internet), publicly available 3D models and Wikipedia, among others. He used Autodesk 3dsMax Design computer-aided design software as well as AutoCAD, Google SketchUp and Adobe Photoshop as auxiliary programs.

“The data was not from one particular source but was cross-checked against multiple sources,” he said. “So I could cross-check a graphics source with, for example, or simply go to Wikipedia to find the numerical height of a building. Also, 3dsMax Design let me extract 3D information from flat photographs as long as there were enough 'known' points. So, I used photos for more than just applying textures on the models. There is no simple way to describe this process other than to say it is very precise for the scale.”

Though extremely labor intensive, gathering the data was only the beginning. The data was then used to create an accurate physical representation. “There is only one way to do it,” said Munson. “I needed the ZPrinter®, which not only accommodates large sizes but, because of its unique color capability, is the only way to accurately reproduce the highly detailed texture mapping used in these computer models. This process creates a whole new medium for city planning, and I hope this exhibit illustrates its potential value to a larger audience.”


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