FIT 3D-prints lustrous, 8-meter high altarpiece for a church in Altmühldorf, Bavaria
18/05/2019 - Over the past few months, the FIT Additive Manufacturing Group facilities saw the genesis of an outstanding piece of sacred art which now is the highlight in the sanctuary of St. Laurentius in Altmühldorf, a small parish in idyllic Upper Bavaria, Germany. The so-called retable was 3D-printed to stand up to a height of 8 meters behind the altar. Its complex 3D-lattice structure is as impressive as its golden color. The project shows a fascinating convergence of historic and contemporary sacred art.
When St. Laurentius in Altmühldorf had to be completely renovated, the parish made a daring decision: The sanctuary was to be thoroughly modernized.
This project posed two unknown challenges: Firstly, the retable is 8 m high and 2.5 m wide untested dimensions for a lattice structure so far. Secondly, the piece had to have a golden, magical shine.First, the digital data model was sliced into 60 different single parts requiring the definition of more than 2,000 individual connections between the segments. Manufacturing the segments with SLS machines using polyamide PA12 took 120 machine days, a matter of three weeks given FIT‘s vast SLS machine capacity.
The segments were then metal-coated with a sophisticated, tailor-made process of thermal spraying. A special bronze alloy gives the structure its matte-golden color as well as an added stability. One especially demanding phase was the assembly of the 60 parts by bonding the 2,000 connectors by hand to form a homogenous and durable construction.
Structural comparison 3D printing vs. Gothic pointed arches and vaults. Credits: FIT AG/Elisabeth Bauer