3D-printed sculpture honours Metrolink's second city crossing

Artwork now buried in special tram time capsule


Clockwise from top: the time capsule prepares to be buried at St Peter's Square, Professor Keith Brown with his sculpture in the University's 3D printing hub, the sculpture 'Timeform Intersection'.

A BESPOKE 3D-printed sculpture inspired by Manchester’s second city centre tram crossing was commissioned by Manchester Metropolitan University to mark the transport network’s expansion.

The sculpture, inspired by the winding and criss-crossing tracks of Metrolink, was buried in Transport for Greater Manchester’s (TfGM) time capsule on December 7 at the St Peter’s Square tram stop.

Sculptor Professor Keith Brown designed and developed the piece of fine art, named Timeform Intersection, initially through computer-aided design. 

It is then painstakingly printed layer upon layer at the University’s 3D printing hub, after a series of test runs to iron out the fine detail contained within the sculpture.

Innovation, culture, excellence

The time capsule is filled with items from various organisations as part of the second city crossing celebrations. 

Prof Brown, from the Manchester School of Art, is a renowned innovator in the use of 3D printing fine art sculptures. 

He chose 3D printing for the time capsule as it represents Manchester Metropolitan’s innovation, culture and excellence in technology. 

Prof Brown said: “The St Peter’s Square time capsule is to commemorate the opening of the second crossing of the Metrolink system in central Manchester, providing a hub which connects the entire network


“The composition of the artwork is intended to function in a variety of ways, which allude to, and articulate, the notion of multiple crossings between entities of different size and shape. 

“As well as alluding to the complexities of the Metrolink crossing, the sculptural composition also relates to the many inter-connections and collaborations between neighbouring institutions, as well as connecting the present to the future.”

St Peter’s Square new tram stop opened at the end of August and work to complete the second city crossing nears the end. Once complete in early 2017, the brand new line through the city centre will deliver more journeys for its 36 million customer base.

Businesses and organisations from across the city donated various items for the TfGM time capsule, including a signed Coronation Street script from ITV, a BBC film, Manchester United and Manchester City memorabilia, and Adam Reid’s ‘Great British Menu’ at The French restaurant, among other fascinating items.

Frozen in time

They are all now buried at the St Peter’s Square tram stop, marked with an inscription for commuters to see, acting as a snapshot of the city and its institutions in 2016.

Metrolink Director Peter Cushing said: “The Second City Crossing is just part of a wider multi-million pound transport package that heralds a major period of growth for the city region and the North. 

“It’s great to freeze this moment in time for future generations at this pivotal point in time for the city region.” 

The 3D sculpture was created in Autodesk’s 3ds max, and was printed using state-of-the-art Fused Deposition 3D printing technology (FDM) on a Stratasys Fortus 360mc; manufactured in a non-biodegradable ABS plastic, it should survive unchanged into the future.

See here to view more of Prof Brown’s 3D-printed sculptures.

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