The first step in building a statue is receiving the CAD file from our customer. If preferred, our in-house team of designers will design one based on customer's specifications. At this time, we will also discuss the materials and technology best suited for the statue and whether or not it will require a custom-built base. To create a 3D statue, we use expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, 3D printing technology or composite technologies.
Using Foam Fabrication
If EPS foam is best for your project, our sculptors draw out the design using the grid system on large 4 x 8-foot blocks of foam. They begin the sculpting process by using heated wires, CNC cutters, and other tools to carve the design into the foam. This part of the creation process can take weeks depending on the details of the design. Adding epoxy clay allows the creation of extreme detail on your statue. In some cases, we add other fabrication materials for strength and durability.
The foam statue is prepared for painting by sanding and adding a basecoat primer. There are multiple finishes to choose from to achieve the desired effect – cementitious, bronze-like, high-gloss, and more.
Using 3D-printed Technology
We typically begin the building process with a maquette (miniature) of the statue. Depending on the size of the statue, the maquette may be anywhere from 8” to 36” tall. These are 3D printed based on the 3D design. The maquette allows the customer to see 3D as opposed to just viewed a digital design. Typically, the maquettes identify changes in the early stage of the process.
If we're using 3D printing technology to create your statue, we send the design file to the computer that will communicate with the 3D printers. Each piece of the design is then printed with plastic filament in ultra-thin layers. Once the pieces are done printing, we bond them together with special glues and additives. Depending on the finish, there may be a lot of sanding involved to attain the final finish. There are many finishes available from standard automotive paint to concrete/marble/bronze looking statues. Even special vinyl wrapping can be applied that emulates chrome, gold, carbon fiber, or any specially designed graphics - think of graphics wrapped on automobiles.
Note: If your 3D printed statue is extremely large, we assemble the layers around metal framework and fill them with foam for added stability and strength.
Using Composite Technology
Composites are where you combine multiple materials that have different properties. When combined they make a stronger finished product. We can use different fabrication technologies where we might combine any of the following: EPS foam, expanding foam, 3D printing, wood, fiberglass resin/cloth, cementitious coatings, and metal. The time-lapse video below shows an example where all of these materials are used in a single project.
Timelapse of 30' Tall Composite Statue
To learn more about how this composite statue was built, visit our
Largest 3D-printed Statue page.