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New Studio Envisions Almost Limitless Possibilities in Creating Large, Lightweight Sculptures

by and on September 24, 2019 5:00 AM

If you can imagine it, they can sculpt it. That’s the idea behind a new studio in College Township expected to open for business at the end of this month.

3D Sculpture Worx is a 3D sculpture studio that uses Computer Numerical Control (CNC) technology to cut and shape objects of any size from lightweight foam. An existing item can be scanned or a model can be designed from scratch on a computer before the design is loaded into a CNC foam carving machine, which then cuts a replica from a large block of EPS foam. The object is pieced together with a strong adhesive if necessary, before then being coated in an extremely durable paint skin.

“The creative potential in it is for architectural elements, signage, branding, prototyping, big public art, event-specific objects, theater props, even furniture,” he said.

But the foremost reason 3D Sculpture Worx even came into existence was to produce mechanical bulls. That’s because the business is a subsidiary of Mechanical Bull Sales Inc., a local company that manufactures and distributes mechanical bull rides across the world.

According to Business Development Officer Chanel Simon, Mechanical Bull Sales’ founder and CEO Gracienne Myers was looking for a way to produce mechanical bulls that would be more lightweight, durable and realistic-looking than what is currently marketed when she came across this technology.

“The old bull design is made out of steel; it’s pretty heavy, and it looks a little clunky as far as the shape,” said Snyder. “So the new bull shape is a little more muscular, a little lighter, and also gives us the expanded capacity to do variations and accessories for our existing customers.”

For example, Simon said, “We’re selling a mechanical turtle to a turtle-themed pub. The owner is so excited to get what will probably be the only rideable turtle in the world.”

Snyder is also working on designing other potential mechanical ride models, like a hot dog, a guitar, a beer bottle and a shark.

“It’s a little unnerving, because once you realize the potential, you look around at anything and think, ‘We can make that,’” he said.

A model of the new mechanical bull design was carved from EDS foam and coated with a layer of special paint. Photo courtesy William Snyder III

Snyder is quick to point out that the sculpting process is different than 3D printing.

“Printing is additive — you’re basically creating something from nothing — while the CNC Mill is reductive, meaning we are carving out of something,” he explained. “It’s not like a manufacturing facility; we’re not going to do runs of 100 of something. It’s more unique, creative, larger scale projects.”

While there are labs on the Penn State campus that utilize the same technology, 3D Sculpture Worx is the only business in the area to use the process in this manner, Snyder said.

Snyder has a strong background in sculpting and creating large-scale art projects. His new mural on the Pugh Street Parking Garage, the Wild Geese mural in Humes Alley and the large Vespa sculpture on Fraser Street are among some of his well-known local projects. His relationship with this new business was serendipitous.

“I was looking for a job in Calgary, Canada, with this company called Heavy Industries that does massive public art projects — huge works. I had conversations with (Myers) here, and it turned out they were buying this equipment that was manufactured in Calgary by the guy who started the company that I was trying to work for,” he said. “So instead of moving to Calgary, I found someone who’s buying the machines and using them here, which is awesome—I can stay.”

Snyder did some intensive training on the equipment in Calgary, and created a few things for State College theater company Fuse Productions, including large alphabet block props and teeter-totters for a show.

The possibility of creating lightweight, portable scenery and props makes the theater industry a natural fit for using the company’s services, Simon said. In addition, interior designers, government agencies and businesses of all sizes are already expressing interest in specific projects.

Inside The 3D Sculpture Worx facility on Stewart Drive in College Township. Photo courtesy William Snyder III

The facility is located at 2929 Stewart Drive and is awaiting code approvals from College Township before the business can be fully operational. Meanwhile, Snyder is busy working on designs and pre-models. He is currently the only designer on staff, but once the company is given the green light, he anticipates rapid growth.

“With the potential, we’re going to need a full design studio and production staff,” he said. “It’s really exciting.”

Editor's Note: Gracienne Myers is the wife of Dan Myers, owner of StateCollege.com parent company Lazerpro Digital Media Group. This story was produced independently by StateCollege.com's content partner the Centre County Gazette.



This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.


Karen Walker
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