TEDxLSU: Behind the Scenes of the 3D Letters

Those of you who attended TEDxLSU, the annual TEDx talk hosted by Communication across the Curriculum, probably noticed a new addition to the event this year. On the stage with all of our speakers were 3D letters spelling out TEDxLSU.

TED is known for use of innovation and this addition to the event was no different. The letters, crafted by our friends at Lamar Advertising, were made by using a 3D printer, and recently gave us a behind-the-scenes peak at the process behind the creation.

The TEDxLSU 3D letters are milled from foam blocks using a very powerful 4-axis router. Lamar’s printer is capable of producing objects up to four feet in diameter and 8 feet long.

Once the letters were carved into their shape, they were covered with Formica to create the hard outer shell. Each piece of Formica was custom cut to fit the letters. The letters were sanded down to create their smooth finish and then painted. This process took approximately 40-50 hours to finish.

Most of the letters can stand on their own because of the how the individual letters are shaped.  However, the “S” and the “U” were a little tricky because of their curves. Lamar used two aspects of design to ensure these letters were stable. The first component is that the letters have weight embedded into the bottom of the foam giving each one a lower center of gravity. Second, the “S” and “U” also contain two small plates and the bottom to prevent them from rocking.  

Aside from the TEDxLSU letters, Lamar has also created many other objects using the 3D printer including three billboards in Baton Rouge. The printer has assisted Lamar in meeting their clients’ needs by having the most innovative and advanced ways to enhance their advertising.

For more information on how 3D printing works or other projects Lamar has produced, visit http://www.lamar.com/About/GivingBack/Innovation/3DPrinting.