Malta Inventor Uses 3D Printing Technology for Art and Architecture
“Paper is sustainable, recyclable and far more affordable than other 3D printing materials. The models are incredibly durable, detailed and pleasant to touch.”
– Charles Aquilina, Inventor
Malta is one of the world’s smallest countries at just 122 square miles, and an island at that, so an inventor had better diversify. Consider Charles Aquilina, who brings his varied technical acumen to furniture manufacturing, fine art and architecture.
Malta’s furniture manufacturers’ association recently asked Aquilina to investigate the value of 3D printing in developing better furniture designs faster.
“Though modest in size, Malta is bold and innovative in vision,” Aquilina says. “Traditionally, furniture manufacturers work from two-dimensional design drawings. We’ve discovered that manufacturers can save time and money, and improve the quality of their products by supplementing drawings with 3D printed prototypes. Not only are manufacturers better able to find flaws earlier, they also get a better feel for the final product. That way, they can propose improvements leading to more comfortable, elegant furniture and higher customer satisfaction.”
Aquilina is on call to many of the island’s furniture manufacturers, ready to produce 3D printed prototypes on demand. He uses the world’s only 3D printer that uses ordinary sheets of business paper as the build material, the Matrix 300+ from Mcor Technologies. “Paper is sustainable, recyclable and far more affordable than other 3D printing materials,” he says. “The models are incredibly durable, detailed and pleasant to touch.”
In Malta, there is high demand for statuary. Aquilina has created a host of statue prototypes using a 3D scanner to scan clay models and incorporate the data into his 3D design software, Autodesk 3ds Max. The resulting digital model drives the creation of the physical one.
“These statues are a way to honor the patron saints of each village, especially around their respective feast days,” he explains. “With a 3D printed prototype created on the Mcor Matrix 300+, the customer or architect can see how the statue will look in the home or garden and request modifications before the final product is made. The customer is happier with the outcome, which is good for the artist and architect, not to mention the family who will live with it for centuries.”
Architects also turn to Aquilina for 3D printed architectural models that traditionally would have been handcrafted. “3D printed models take one-tenth the time of handcrafted ones and display far more detail and accuracy,” says Aquilina. “I’m working on models for a big hotel in nearby Libya and another real estate development whose model is 1 meter by 1 meter square. I’ll simply glue several models together to achieve that size, which is easy because Mcor models are ultimately made of paper.”
Another process that takes extra time is painting architectural details onto a model. That’s why Aquilina is considering purchasing the Mcor IRIS, full-colour 3D printer that offers the industry’s greatest colour capabilities. The IRIS prints in more than one million photorealistic colours simultaneously, adding a crucial fourth dimension of realism to a model of a home, building or development.
“There are so many exciting things 3D printing with paper can do, and I’m always considering new possibilities,” says Aquilina. “I don’t think we’re even close to hitting our limits with the technology, and Mcor is helping us expand what we can achieve every day.”