A 3D printing hobbyist was able to take swaths of publicly available data and transform it into a model of downtown Vancouver that could fit on your coffee table.
Daniel Ryan was inspired to create the print after seeing another 3D print of a city in the United States posted online. Having always maintained an interest in 3D printing, Ryan bought his first printer in April 2020, right when the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic led to the first of the city’s lockdowns.
“With nothing but time on my hands I was printing day and night! I fell in love with the hobby, and loved showing off everything I printed to friends and family, Ryan said. “Quickly I had friends and neighbours asking if I could print them things as well! I figured that this would be a way to feed the hobby and pay for materials, so I started selling to friends and family.”
When he posted his prints online he started receiving requests to purchase his work which led to the creation of his own Instagram, Facebook and Etsy pages to sell some pieces. Over the holiday season last year, Ryan was one of the many people selling 3D printed 2020 dumpster fire Christmas ornaments.
Instead of printing ornaments and Fall Guys characters, last month Ryan embarked on the challenge of printing an entire city. After some searching, Ryan came across open source Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data provided by the City of Vancouver in 2013 and was able to convert it to data his 3D printer could understand.
Ryan explains that since the data is eight years old at this point there are some differences in the city’s skyline which Ryan challenges people to find. Some sharp-eyed Redditors for example pointed out the lack of Trump Tower among the city’s skyscrapers.
It took approximately 75 hours to print the 12 tiles that fit together to make the city. Altogether the finished model is 30cm by 40cm and for a rough idea of scale, BC Place is about the size of a quarter.
If you have a 3D printer and 75 hours to kill, you too can make the model by downloading the files Ryan made available online.
Ryan who now lives on Vancouver Island, says that in his youth he went on many drives into Vancouver from his home in Chilliwack for hockey games, trips to Stanley Park and the Vancouver Aquarium. A year of study at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus only solidified the city as having a special place in his heart.