“I think that 3D printing has shown itself to be particularly appropriate for architectural and tactile interpretation and for detailed interpretation of small items.”

— Loz Simpson
Sculptor, designer and Topografik founder

We live in a richly textured, visual 3D world. But how can people with low sight or no sight experience all the details sighted people do? And how can sighted visitors at large museums, galleries and heritage sites better understand the scale and context of them? Though tactile interpretation, museums can create tactile models based on universal design and access for all.

Solidscape’s three dimensional printing generates high quality finished wax originals of such tactile detail, they can move directly into casting, producing detailed, durable and intricate models.

Putting Art in the Hands of the People – Topografik UK

Photo source: Topografik, UK (www.topografik.co.uk/). Shown is the Weston Park Museum, Sheffield.

Topografik is the United Kingdom’s premier provider of tactile interpretation and design solutions. The company offers a wide range of services, including art and architectural interpretation, historical replicas, educational resources, wayfinding, landscape sculpture and figurative work.

“For the last 12 months, I’ve been on a journey which has opened up the world of 3D printing in terms of the possibilities for generating models and tactile pieces,” says Topografik founder Loz Simpson, who relies on Solidscape® wax 3D printing to produce intricate pieces. “Where wax is successful is in the ability to generate detail.”

Topografik partnered with Solidscape® to create scaled interpretations of the Eurostar Satellite, allowing visitors to London’s Science Museum to interact with the exhibit and experience the detail of the satellite.

Engaging the senses

Tactile pieces like the replica satellites are becoming more common in exhibits worldwide. Their importance is significant for people with residual sight or low sight visibility.

“If you have very little sight, touch becomes an increasingly important sense to gain comprehension of the world around you,” explains Simpson. Unlike an audio description, “a tactile experience is not necessarily a linear discovery. It gives a level of autonomy to the experience for the visually impaired visitor.”

Topografik, with the help of high precision 3D printers like Solidscape®, has become an essential part of that experience for thousands of museum, gallery and heritage site visitors.

Universal design

Topografik specializes in creating original designs for those with poor sight and has been producing tactile interpretations for 15 years. In the process, Simpson has realized the company should broaden its scope.

“[Tactile objects] are of interest not just to those who are visually impaired but also to the wider audience,” children and adults alike, says Simpson. “I now design with access for all and universal design as a base principle.”

Topografik’s clients include the Natural History Museum of London, Houses of Parliament and Historic Royal Palaces. Simpson looks forward to what the future brings with Solidscape® 3D printers in his tool kit.