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Jurassic Coast Project


Institution: Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication

The traditional method for creating 3D landscape models is "sand tables", manually assembled models, or other approaches that may take many weeks to create. For the Jurassic Coast model a Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) milling machine was used. CNC routing is a way of machining an object directly from Computer Aided Design (CAD) data with a sharp, fast moving tool bit. Geospatial data of the Jurassic Coast supplied by Landmap, was translated into .stl files to create complex geometries for milling.

Interview with Prof. Jeremy Gardiner


By starting with a solid block and removing unwanted material, the Subtractive Rapid Prototyping (SRP) solution offered several advantages over 3D printers and other rapid prototyping systems which are more expensive, fragile and time consuming. For the Jurassic Coast model Prof. Gardiner and his research assistant Laura White used a three axis machine, the Roland MDX 20 CNC 3 Axis mill benchtop milling machine which delivered a smooth surface finish without post finishing and gave us tight tolerances up to +/- 0.001mm. Having three axis means the cutter can be moved in the x, y and z axis simultaneously, whilst remaining perpendicular to the bed of the machine (See Figure 1).

Milling Machine

Figure 1. Photograph of Milling Machine in Action provided by Prof. Jeremy Gardiner

3D Model Creation

Figure 2. Photograph of Alison McLeod (JISC Monitoring Unit), Gail Millin-Chalabi (Landmap) and Prof. Jermey Gardiner (Ravensbourne) holding 3D model prototype.