How Effective Material Selection Helped Shape the business of Solid Terrain Modeling
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For the last 15 years, Solid Terrain Modeling (STM) has been producing three-dimensional physical models of relief maps manufactured from digital data. Geospatially accurate, STM terrain models provide a realistic rendering of land formations that depict size, terrain, points of range, sight lines, etc., allowing people to touch and view it from any angle.
“Our customers are anybody who has a need to communicate about land use,” explains Solid Terrain Modeling CEO Mark Fisher. STM relief maps are used across various industries and fields including parks and recreation, museums, land planning, litigation, and military and government operations. These are manufactured to any size, shape or scale, and provide a level of understanding not found in any map, computer, or ordinary topographic model. Each finished physical model is created with a high degree of precision.
When Solid Terrain Modeling was established, they needed a supplier with the ability to fulfill large orders of high-quality foam to serve as base for their models. STM needed dense polyurethane foam with fine-cell structure that has the ability to support the smooth finish and exacting detail needed on their models – from soft, rolling plains to craggy and jagged features.
The CNC cutting portion of the patented STM manufacturing process can range anywhere from 10 to 100 hours, so it was pertinent that the materials were hole- and defect-free to avoid wasted time and resources in the CNC machining process.
Another important factor was strength of material. As solid terrain models are frequently touched or walked on, the material needed to maintain structural integrity and resolution. An initial search led the company to General Plastics’ FR-7100 Multi-Use Core polyurethane modeling foam.
- Structural integrity
- Fine cell structure
- Consistent quality
- Easy to CNC
Solid Terrain Modeling has been exclusively using General Plastics’ LAST-A-FOAM® FR-7100 foam series boards since the beginning. The foam maintains consistent quality and structural integrity from piece to piece, is easy to machine, bond and paint.
Other companies’ products were tested, however none compared to the quality of General Plastics’ polyurethane foam and its capabilities. Solid Terrain Modeling tested other 8 lb. material, their required density for most models, but these were found lacking in strength. While they were just as light and easy to cut, they were nowhere as strong as LAST-A-FOAM® FR-7108. Using the FR-7108 as foam base allowed Solid Terrain Modeling to create very large (40ft x 74ft) relief maps and military models that its users or audience can touch and walk on without fear of damaging it.
While General Plastics’ foam fit the bill where structural integrity, strength and quality are paramount, Solid Terrain Modeling CEO Mark Fisher explains, “The thing that is most important to me beyond the material itself is the company behind the material.” He continues, “General Plastics was one of the few manufacturers that really stood behind their product and quality.”
Since that time, over 15 years ago, General Plastics has been an excellent working partner with Solid Terrain Modeling, providing the quality foam it needs to be successful.
LAST-A-FOAM® FR-7100 Benefits:
- Fine cell structure supports smooth finish
- Dimensionally stable
- Closed-cell foam does not absorb water or moisture
- Easily painted and bonded
- Economical and versatile
- Grain-free surface
- Easily shaped with a variety of cutting processes
Download our FR-7100 Technical Data Sheet.