PDR has been producing awards for the event since its inception in 2007 and this year, decided on a complex typographic design to demonstrate the capabilities of its 3D printers.
Each award features 25 key words associated with the DME categories and judging criteria. Words intersect to ensure the structure holds together but are offset 0.1mm apart to give a raised surface showing the edge of each character.
The 10cm-high blocks were printed vertically using a wax structure to hold them in place and each took more than 75 hours to make, says project engineer Tom Edmunds.
They were then heated in an oven to melt the remaining wax before being degreased and sprayed black, with highlighted text lacquered for extra effect.
It’s an intricate design and one that would have been near impossible to make using traditional subtractive machining methods, says Edmunds.
“The awards always follow the same shape and structure – previously, we used aluminium blocks that were carved using lasers – but this year, we wanted to do something a bit different that would reflect a change in the times and showcase our technology,” he says.
“You would struggle to get the same finish using subtractive machining – the award would probably fall apart due to its complexity,” he adds.
Launched by Cardiff Metropolitan University in 1994, PDR has also used 3D printers to develop implants that help surgeons re-position facial bones on patients who have suffered multiple or serious injuries – the project is on display at the Science Museum’s 3D: Printing the Future exhibition in London.