Even if in the history of cinematography models very skilled technicians were working by hand, modern times have generated alternative ways of building very detailed maquettes for movie sets. These are achieved with the help of the 3D software. They are built at first with the computer, in the virtual world, adjusted according to preference, and finally milled, 3Dprinted or rapid prototyped.
The computer-aided design software enables a skilled designer to produce a highly detailed model, without any loss of material or endless hours of work. This technology became available in the late 80s, and was used at first to produce models and prototype parts for the different industries, such as the automotive, nautical or aeronautical.
The models that are generated on the computer must proof a series of rigorous requests, depending on the manufacturing method. For example, if milled, the model is not allowed to contains holes in the model bigger that the diameter of the drill bit. If the hole in the model is bigger that the drill bit, the milling machine will think there is a hole in the model, and actually destroy the whole mock-up.
The 3D printing process is even more rigorous than the milling procedure. As the tolerances for this model are sometimes divisions of the millimetre, the 3D data model has to be ‘water tight’. This means it is not allowed to have any nanometre hole. If only two poligons of the computer generated object do not touch, the final 3D printed model will be a failure. This rigorousness has its good points too. The models created with this method will have outstanding details, meaning that even the smallest maquette could create the impression of a real set in a movie. The Iron Movie, released in 2010 made great use of the 3D printing technique. The Iron Man gloves and parts of the suit that were too hard to be computer generated with a green screen, were directly 3D printed, part by part.