3D Printing at The Stonemasonry Company Limited

At The Stonemasonry Company Limited we pride ourselves on our commitment to innovation along with our passion for stone. As part of this commitment, and in order to help our teams produce the best stone staircases they can, we have recently invested in a 3D printer. The machine itself has taken pride of place in our design office and is being tried and tested on a regular basis by our multi-disciplinary design team. 

In the past, in order to help us understand the spaces and volumes of a bespoke project, we have been asked by clients to create stone models, something which is very particular to The Stonemasonry Company Limited, and this method is still our recommendation for more unique projects and spaces, we find that the use of stone models allows us to build more effectively at a later stage, as we get a much better idea of the volume, weight and site constraints that need to be considered. However, a 3D printed version can prove incredibly valuable to the design stage of any project.

There are 3 key reasons why we chose to invest in this new piece of equipment, firstly to help the designers and architects we work with, secondly to allow us to illustrate how different elements fit together and finally as a tool to aid conversations with our 3rd party suppliers. 

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In terms of helping the designers and architects with whom we work, the ability for us to quickly produce these scale models allows us to provide something that facilitates an instant understanding of proportions. This also gives a preview of how light may catch surfaces, and allows for any issues to be identified early on. Although we provide sketches and some 3D drawings to our clients there are some things that are much more easily represented in the form of a tangible model.

Similarly when illustrating how components fit together some things can be lost in translation when looking at a screen, however we can create printed models with interconnecting and dependant parts, showcasing all of the elements and how they interact with one another. This has proved particularly useful for some of our more complex assemblies, as there can be multiple small elements that are crucial to making the overall finished stone staircase work effectively. Lastly there are certain considerations that have to be made regarding the design in order to facilitate our installation technology, and again these models allow us to accurately demonstrate why a solution is or isn’t feasible.

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Lastly the models we have produced so far have been an incredibly useful educational tool, aiding conversations with engineers, stonemasons and steel fabricators to explain certain concepts and processes. Meaning we can simply demonstrate the differences between our installation methods and experiment with new techniques by producing a low cost proof of concept before engaging in more costly activities, such as the production of stone models.

Overall, the models provide our clients and their architects with the best representation of how their staircase will look, this solution is also much more cost effective for our clients and easier to transport. Unfortunately drawings and renders can sometimes be confusing or misleading and so, if the clients’ budget allows for the production of a 3D model, we would always recommend the investment.

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Although there are great benefits for our clients and partners, for us, at The Stonemasonry Company Limited, it allows for quick production of components that our stone pieces may have to accurately fit or interact with, for instance plug holes and taps for stone sinks, we can also use this technology to model components for casting or even to create reverse templates to aid shaping.

Whether we are producing a complex reinforced stone staircase or a traditional cantilever stone staircase, or even one of our specialist post tensioned stone staircases we feel that it is this commitment to new technologies that sets The Stonemasonry Company Limited apart from other companies, allowing us to provide our clients with the best solutions whilst producing impeccable results.

Emma Garner