In this episode of The Brief, I had the opportunity to learn more about the concept of 3D imaging through the expertise of Dr. Stephen Fai. As the director of Carleton Immersive Media Studio (CIMS), Fai is dedicated to working towards an innovative, hybrid form of representation. In addition to the work he does with Carleton, he is also affiliated with the Azrieli school of architecture and urbanism.



In the digital world, workflow represents the transformation of something digital into something physical. This process involves the transfer of information from the digitization of something physical into something content rich, then linking that information to a database, running simulation tests, and finally outputting that material through an additive or subtractive process. For example, an additive process could be a 3D printout that is generated from a 3D model, or an electronic data source. A subtractive process implies milling, which is done through the use of robots or computer numeric content devices. The concept of 3D printing may be difficult for some people to wrap their head around, and that is precisely why Fai believes that it is “important to allow people to imagine for themselves how this technology can work in their life” how the digital ‘flow’ can become one with ‘workflow’. 

THE EVOLUTION of 3D IMAGING – (from sacs of pellets to Legos)

Essentially, scan data obtained from photogrammetry and laser scanning has made is possible to create print models of objects by using the data to obtain a complete set of measurements of said object. The great thing about these innovations is that they pick up on any imperfections or inaccuracies that the structure may contain; even the slight details that any non-digital measurement could overlook. Thus, this technology makes it possible to obtain a complete scan of any structure inside and out.
The evolution of 3D imaging can be traced back as far as the beginning of World War 1, and has since been constantly evolving. Interesting fact: Antonio Gaudi’s church near Barcelona was left unfinished due the events of World War 1. Although his plans and progress were destroyed, the negatives of Gaudi’s (then) newly developed “method for structural calculation” opened the window for the reconstruction of the church. The negatives illustrated his attempt at using a “stereostatic model” as a method of illustrating the measurements of his to-be church. Photogrammetry has since evolved significantly, and now suggests the construction of 3D modelling. An interesting example of just how radically 3D imaging has evolved is the 3D Print Canal House in Amsterdam. Here, a team of architects, known as the DUS architects, is constructing a building out of prints. ‘Each printed room consists of several parts, which are joined together as large Lego-like blocks’. They are working with engineers to analyze the strength of their materials and the structural integrity of their creation in hopes of generating a more cost effective, tailored architectural approach to development.


One of the neat projects that Fai and his team is currently affiliated with is the repurposing of an old industrial building that has been extended upon continuously over the past 150 years. Their goal here is to construct a model of the building based on scan data. This project demonstrates just how effective this new technology can be. Not only does it allow them to view the current condition of the building, but it also allows them to see the skeleton of the building. The data generated from these scans thus allows them to see where, and how, additions were added to the original core of the building. This approach to imaging will definitely be of assistance in the architecture, construction and operations industries through the elimination of inaccuracies in measurements and the representation of existing and to-be constructed buildings through the output of flawless data.


“There is an assumption that the digital is a process of just hitting the “Go” button”, says Fai, “this maker movement has allowed people to realize that there is actually a physical aspect in the digital.”
As with any form of technology, there is always room for advancement. What Fai would like to see next is the practice of further simulation testing, as well as further development in the hardware and software areas. Continuous development in these areas will permit the transfer of  this technology into the management and operations of buildings.
Furthermore, Fai’s goal is to develop a robotics lab, this lab will be multifunctional facility and serve to for the creation and education of new innovations. Not only does he want to create a robot that will be equipped with a mill, a water cutter and a robotic saw, but he also wants to use this lab as a training facility. Here, he could develop a customized workflow for different trades and contractors and demonstrate the perks of these new innovations in an interpersonal setting. The future is endless…
Fai has provided us with additional links to interesting and innovative projects that are worth checking out.  Still want to know more? Feel free to contact or call 613-231-2802 x351
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