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.


3D Modeling - BIMing in 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.  

F3 3D Modeling from Point Cloud Data


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. 

F3 Augmented Reality

Augmented Industrial

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

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 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 - HDS Ripple Effect at HxGN Live 2014

Founded in 2004, surveying firm F3 & Associates has quickly grown to over 50 employees in the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California, featuring world-class clients such as Google, Shell Oil, Chevron, Apple and Walt Disney Corporation. F3 currently owns two Leica ScanStation C10 scanners and a full suite of Leica Geosystems point cloud software. Primary markets for the company’s surveying and scanning services include industrial plants and buildings/BIM. The day F3 & Associates bought its first scanner set in motion a process of exciting business evolution for the company that continues to this day. Not only has the technology led us to new types of customers in new geographic areas, but it has also led us to offering additional types of services that we had before never dreamed of. As a result, new departments were formed such as 3D CAD modeling and a complete BIM department. While looking for ways to offer clients added-value solutions in the BIM industry, F3 developed and patented a series of augmented reality (AR) applications based on scanning, surveying, and modeling. This has led to developments using Google Glass, for example. Shortly thereafter, a 3D scanning client posed an interesting challenge to F3, and the company responded by acquiring a 3D printer and creating a valuable, new way of presenting data. That investment in 3D printing in turn led to opportunities in metrology. A year later a reverse engineering and prototyping department was formed. Reverse engineering and metrology opportunities have since led the company to exciting opportunities in manufacturing and F3 now has a global presence in industrial manufacturing solutions. This presentation will discuss this exciting evolution – all triggered by getting into laser scanning - including the highs and lows of this process and what’s coming next.

3D Scanning/From the Field - International Projects- Toronto, ON

Wow, Canada was great and a great place to scan. Toronto is an awesome city and we successfully scanned BMO Field (Toronto's MLS field and future home to the CFL's Argonaunts) for the upcoming expansion, the point cloud is very cool.

Point cloud of the registered scan, BMO Field, Toronto, ON.

Technically it was a slam dunk and we nailed it but logistically we learned some valuable lessons that can only be realized "in the moment" while traveling internationally. I will be posting future posts to discuss the lessons learned and give some insight to the pre-planning that needs to happen for the project to be successful.

Having fun with a Leica ScanStation P20; scanning BMO Field, Toronto, ON with the CN Tower and Canadian flag in the background.

I have a new respect for both the people of Canada and the country itself. I went on a walk to the Distillery District of Toronto was amazed by the helpfulness and diversity of the people.

Cheers Toronto, thx for the wonderful experience.

Until my next post,

Captain Birk Blogger

Feel free to contact me by email... bellis@f3-inc.com.. I would love to hear from you!