May 14, 2014 - Soon, the famous Spirit of Detroit statue will only be a few inches tall and folks will be able to hold this iconic symbol of the Motor City in the palms of their hands.
CAM Logic employees Dustin Kinsler and Chris Himburg (below left) have a Charlie's Angels moment with their 3-D scanners in front of the Spirit of Detroit, while Ian Scribner and Josh Kolcan (upper right) continue working. Photo provided. (click for larger version)
Don't worry, some mad scientist hasn't invented a shrink ray – at least not yet.
Employees from the Oxford-based CAM Logic were in downtown Detroit last week scanning the 26-foot-tall bronze statue, so the company can use 3-D printing technology to create scale miniatures of it for next month's RAPID Conference and Exposition.
"We're probably going to print a couple hundred of them and give them away at the show," said Jim Carlisle, owner and president of CAM Logic, headquartered at 38 S. Washington St. in downtown Oxford.
The RAPID Conference focuses on 3-D printing and technology. Hosted by the nonprofit organization SME, the event will be held June 9-12 at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit. It's part of The Big M, a manufacturing event.
"There's a big buzz around 3-D printing right now. It's just of great public interest," Carlisle said. "We've always wanted to do something with some landmark in Detroit – scan it to get some exposure. With the RAPID show coming up and it being at Cobo this year, we thought there's no better opportunity to do something like this. We were looking at monuments and we felt the Spirit of Detroit would get the most attention."
Even though CAM Logic's been around for 18 years and has more than 2,000 customers, Carlisle, who lives in Oxford, feels like his company is still "the world's best kept secret."
"We have an amazing amount of leading-edge technology that can benefit so many people in (the) manufacturing and automotive (industries) that aren't leveraging it," he said. "They don't even know we exist."
CAM Logic is a leading provider of Product Lifecycle Management solutions, 3-D scanning and rapid prototyping technologies and services to help companies design and build better products, improve processes, reduce costs and maximize profitability. CAM Logic also sells and supports supplementary products/services from other principal suppliers.
Housed in an historic 19th-century building with a fantastic view of Centennial Park, Carlisle noted that "no one would ever drive by here and suspect that we have millions of dollars worth of very leading-edge technology."
"But our name's out there and we're working with bigger companies all the time," he added.
The Spirit of Detroit project is not just about promoting CAM Logic and drawing people to its booth at the RAPID show, Carlisle said it's also about promoting the Detroit area and what it has to offer.
"We wanted to bring recognition to the intellectual talent, skill and technology that we use here in Detroit for manufacturing that really separates us from the rest of the world," he said.
To Carlisle, this project represents his "commitment" to both Detroit and to his industry, and his "belief in the advantages of (3-D) technology for manufacturing."
CAM Logic employees used four different styles of laser-based 3-D scanning technologies to capture at least 50 gigabytes of data regarding the statue's physical dimensions, which will then be used to create a digital model for 3-D printing.
Carlisle noted once in the digital environment, the model can be printed as is or modified. "I could put him in different poses," he said. "Channel 7 wanted us to put their logo in his one hand."
Considering the statue is holding a symbol of God in its left hand and some people symbolizing family in its right hand, Carlisle didn't think it would be a good idea to replace either with anything else.
The Spirit of Detroit was created by Marshall Fredericks, cast in Oslo, Norway, and dedicated in 1958. It's located in front of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center on Woodward Ave.
CAM Logic employees spent about eight hours scanning the massive city monument.
"It took a lot longer than we thought it was going to," Carlisle said. "It should have taken us about two to three hours. The reason was one, we had too much sunshine. I had a guy on the boom (lift) with an umbrella to block the sun (which can interfere with the scanning when it comes to reflective surfaces).
"And the boom we rented from Home Depot was supposed to have 35 feet of reach. Well, straight up it does, but not out. So, we had to do like four setups. We had to move this boom around to different locations. That added time to it."
Just as Detroit is a diverse city, the Spirit of Detroit miniatures printed by CAM Logic will be diverse.
"We're going to print them with all different technologies and different materials," Carlisle said. "We've got plaster-based material, plastic, nylon, clear plastic, black plastic, multi-color plastic."
CAM Logic is even going to use a 3-D printer that yields products made of metal to create a very special 6-to-8-inch-tall Spirit of Detroit model.
"We're going to print one out of titanium, put it in a glass case and give it to the mayor of Detroit," Carlisle said.
Carlisle noted "the level of detail" his company's scans captured "went above and beyond" what was really needed for this project because the miniature copies will be so tiny in comparison to the original.
But there was a reason CAM Logic took the extra time and went to the extra trouble.
It's called posterity.
"We wanted to provide that digital data to Detroit for historical archiving," he said. "So, if there's ever a need for repair or something catastrophic happens to the statue, they have a three-dimensional (model) for reference."
The Spirit of Detroit isn't the only famous local statue that CAM Logic is looking to make miniature copies of.
During the RAPID Conference, the company's employees will be scanning the towering statue of legendary boxer and heavyweight champion Joe Louis that resides in Cobo Center and greets visitors. If time allows, Carlisle said hopefully, they will have miniatures of that statue available as well.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.