3D Modeling

3D Modeling, 3D Printing, 3D Scanning, Rapid Prototyping

Bay Area firm leading the way in 3D printer technology

BENICIA, Calif. — 

BY: Claudine Wong

A Benicia company is getting attention across the world for its cutting edge approach to an industry that has long relied on more traditional methods.

F3 started as a land surveying company, but considers itself a leader in the field of industrial measurements.

Sean Finn, one of the company’s three founders, tells KTVU that his firm has been involved in several big projects including the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge.

"For example, we worked with the Bay Bridge when it was built and helped with the foundations,” he said. “And when a strip mall gets built, we tell them where all the curbs go and where all the buildings go."

But then a few years ago, F3 decided to try something new.

“Sometimes to win the game you have to change the rules a little bit," said Finn of the decision.

So the company decided to invest in a 3D printer to see how much more perspective they could give their clients.

Now they own four 3D printers, working around the clock, helping give their clients a look at their project in a way no one else can.

The response has been stronger than the company could have imagined with big name clients like Apple, Google, Shell and the Walt Disney Corporation lining up to work with F3.

Locally, F3 has also helped with the Hogan Dam and the Cal Memorial Stadium.

The projects have several layers, Finn said. Clients get traditional paper plans but then the project site gets a 3D scan.

What they get next is a 3D replica of the site. Most replicas have moveable parts so that everyone involved can take a look at the challenges in front of them in miniature.

Clients even get what F3 calls a 3D hardcopy. Those are 3D pieces that attach by magnet to the paper prints so models can be taken into the field.

On recent project Finn says those 3D models helped a refinery complete a project two days ahead of schedule and saved the refinery millions of dollars.

3D printing is not new but Finn says no one else in the world has used it like this. In fact in a recent industry conference in Las Vegas, F3 went up against 5,000 participants and companies from 30 different countries and walked away with two first place awards.

BIM, 3D Modeling

3D Modeling: Castle Edition, Kirkistown Castle

F3 has teamed up with Scadin Surveys to 3D scan and model the Kirkistown Castle in Northern Ireland.  We always look forward to working on global projects and working with international partners.  This gives us the opportunity to work on a diverse range of projects, learn, and forge new friendships with international teams.  This is not quite Windsor Castle, but this being F3’s first castle project, we are extra excited. 

This castle was built in 1622 by Roland Savage and was occupied until 1731.  It is built in the style of late medieval tower-house tradition but was later remodeled in Gothic style in 1800 and later updated in 1836. 

The property grounds consists of a three-story tower in the center and a Barn.  The perimeter is enclosed by a mostly survived bawn with two corner turrets along it.    

Scadin Surveys will be surveying and collecting the scanning data, while F3 will provide a 3D model for historical preservation / heritage records using Revit.  The focus of the exercise will be to model the three-story tower’s interior and exterior architectural / structural features along with surrounding ground terrain.  The final model will be within 1/8” accuracy to the point cloud.

Look for updates as we begin modeling the Kirkistown Castle.

Kirkistown Castle in Northern Ireland

Kirkistown Castle in Northern Ireland

3D Scanning, 3D Modeling

Beyond 3D Scanning

The science of 3D scanning is applicable for a majority of projects going on in Northern California. An accuracy of 1/8" is generally good enough for most projects and F3 prides itself on being an industry leader in this area. However, F3 utilizes FARO's Vantage Laser Tracker when higher accuracy is required. This is the case with the project pictured below which is a tainter gate retrofit at the New Hogan Lake Dam. 

F3 was called upon to assist in the alignment of the gate trunnions for this project. The trunnions serve as the pivot point for the gate and any misalignment can cause stress in the arms. This stress can lead to steel yielding and ultimately failure. With the tracker's accuracy of 0.002", F3 is measuring the centerline of these trunnions to determine any discrepancies. When the downpours finally start, these gates will have no problem holding back the flood. 

3D Modeling, 3D Printing, 3D Scanning, BIM, Rapid Prototyping

3D Scanning Conference in Las Vegas

The F3 team had a blast in Vegas. We displayed our new "3D Hardcopies" to tremendous response and they took home 1st place in two categories. 

Our presentation was well received and as usual the attendees and Lecia staff were a blast to hang out with. F3 was fortunate enough to get a great deal of attention that lead to interviews and photo shoots. Check in for more post about this as the week goes on.......

3D Scanning, 3D Modeling

3D Scanning - Wrench Wednesday Question on LinkedIn


 It’s “Wrench Wednesday”! Our recent 3D blogging efforts ( http://f3-inc.com/blog/ ) have gained a lot of attention so we thought we would form today’s question around our 3D Blog. For today’s question, how many points were collected in the 3D scan of the historic “Gig Nana”? The 3D Data was collected at the historic Legion of Honor; Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco in the San Francisco Bay Area.  For hints and footage and follow F3 & Associates on LinkedIn and check out our 3D Blog so you can be first entry on Wednesdays.  

3D Scan of the historic Gig Nana: Data Captured at the Legion of Honor in the SF Bay Area

3D Scan of the historic Gig Nana: Data Captured at the Legion of Honor in the SF Bay Area

3D Modeling

3D SCanning - Historical Preservation

The world has been full of world-class engineers, extraordinary structures, and mysteries.  Utilizing the range, mobility, and function of 3D High Definition Laser Scanning has opened up a look into the past and future.  Point cloud information is now being taken to another level, we at F3 augment the traditional laser scanning data with other survey workflows and higher accuracy instruments, such as our Laser Tracker.  By combining these methods and techniques we are able to solve complex questions and provide a complete 3D service. 


Below is a great example of how 3D High Definition Laser Scanning is being utilized to solve some of the world's oldest questions and giving us more insight on what makes a structural marvel.

National Geographic Time Scanners - Jerusalem

Uploaded by BBC Channel on 2014-03-27.

3D Printing, Rapid Prototyping, 3D Modeling

3D Printing - Wrench Wednesday on LinkedIn Winners 4/18/2014

Congratulations to Joshua Tilander and Peter Sosnowski for guessing that Batman’s shield in his left hand was indeed 3D printed. Bobby Ray Burns gets the prize for having the most creative answer of who would win in a fight between Captain America and Batman. All three of you will be receiving a 3D printed crescent wrench. Check LinkedIn today for another chance to win!

Joshua Tilander Batman's "Batarang" is printed...and Batman would win because Will Arnett voiced him in the movie and he would out-talk Captain America!

Bobby Ray Burns No, no, no... Captain America would win because Batman has too many "issues", and Cap fights for an inspiring cause!

Peter Sosnowski The logo batman is holding is 3D printed. Batman always wins. Always. He could beat lung cancer with a carton of cigarettes!


3D Printed Batman Logo

3D Printed Batman Logo



3D Scanning, BIM, 3D Modeling

3D Modeling - BIM-ing the Future

I would like to talk briefly about F3 and how it has come to embrace the rapid growth of BIM.   With the growth of BIM in the last few years, its benefits have become apparent in virtual design and construction (VDC) methods.  BIM has allowed for new innovative technologies to be implemented in the BIM process.  F3 has taken new technologies to effectively use them to find innovative solutions to countless challenges.  

As BIM strives to provide the most accurate information of the existing environment, 3D laser scanning perfectly complements the BIM concept by capturing the environment in point cloud form.  This has proven to be quite successful for preconstruction.  The 3D model from the point cloud serves as the foundation for adding the new design during BIM coordination meetings.  Also, F3 has the capability of providing 3D prints with our 3D printing services from our point cloud to 3D model workflow (patent pending).  This has been a successful tool for contractors and designers in planning and communicating effectively.  



Now F3 ventures into implementing augmented reality into our workflow called Augmented Industrial (patent pending).  As far as its relation to BIM, this can be the bridge in allowing the end user to use all the plans and 3D models for facility management in a seamless environment.  With the advent of wearable mobile devices, various trades can walk the existing environment and view 3D models and plans in real time whether it’s for equipment replacement or maintenance checks. 

Augmented Industrial

Augmented Industrial

There is much excitement to look forward to in the AEC industry and will update about F3 as it grows with BIM.

3D Printing, Rapid Prototyping, 3D Modeling


At F-3, your project is unique and we treat it that way. Whether you are a corporation or developing on a personal level, our non-generic approach coupled with our unique resources allows us to help you develop your idea in the best way possible; we tailor to your needs. Far from a generic approach, every project has a unique method of execution. While working directly with our clients and communicating our progress at every benchmark, your project is important to us and we are here to help you develop your creation to its potential while remaining cost effective and combining our resources with your ideas to create a streamlined product that will perform to your expectations.


Using 3D scanning and 3D printing we can produce your intricate project to precision specifications and take it through the rapid prototyping stages to somewhere beyond, as far as you want to go.


It is your idea, it should reflect you; we are here to help you achieve that. When you come for a consultation you will meet with our engineers who have experience with many different types of concepts. We are able to take your concept whatever state it is in, any direction and are willing to go above and beyond to help you achieve satisfaction with your idea. You put a lot of thought in your idea, so will we.

your idea blog photo.JPG

3D Scanning, 3D Printing, 3D Modeling, Rapid Prototyping

3D Laser Scanning - 3D Printing & Augmented Reality - SPAR 2014

I just returned from Spar 2014 in beautiful  Colorado Springs. I was fortunate enough to have two presentation slots. One was on the subject of 'augmented reality" industrial applications and the other was on the topic of combining our 3 major industrial solutions (3D Scanning - 3D Printing - Metrology or Faro Arm and Faro Laser Trackers) into one unique workflow we call Augmented Industrial. 

On the flight out I was a "pillow" for over half the flight for this complete stranger......

On the flight out I was a "pillow" for over half the flight for this complete stranger......

One of my signature presentation bowties. If you see me in one you know I am speaking that day....

One of my signature presentation bowties. If you see me in one you know I am speaking that day....

Shot taken by my friend Eric DeLeon from WHPacific

Shot taken by my friend Eric DeLeon from WHPacific

Industrial - Wharf.jpg

It is always great to see friends form around the US that are constant presences at these conferences. I always seek out Larry Klienkemper form Lanmar Services. He has a great company that specializes in BIM services and at the conference he is quite the presence. If you attended SPAR, Hexagon or Autodesk University you must look for him, he typically is in a bright green shirt and the life of the party. 

Met some new friends from Jacobs Engineering and hooked up with my old friends from Leica Geosystems. It's always great to see Geoff, Mike Jen and their crew.  We at F3 are big fans of the Leica C10 scanners and the new P20 Laser Scanner. Its nice when you can pair up a great product with great people to hang out with. 

Next up HvGN Live in Vegas!!!  http://hxgnlive.com/

See you then......