A RETIRED designer is using a unique South Shields facility to create 3D models of the town as it was in the 1960s.
Kevin Flett, 64, has become a regular visitor to FabLab@The Word to take advantage of its cutting-edge equipment as he recreates parts of the town which have changed or are no longer there.
FabLab@The Word offers state-of-the-art laser, vinyl and 3D printer technology for people of all ages to use and is one of just 10 such facilities nationwide.
Mr Flett designs CGI models of parts of the town – many of which have since been demolished – using old photographs from the 1960s.
He first visited FabLab on the day it opened almost a year ago, and now uses the 3D printer and laser cutting facilities to create scale models of his designs, which can be viewed by searching South Shields CGI on Facebook.
The centre and equipment is free to use and customers can purchase materials, such as acrylic and Perspex on site.
“I use old photographs of the town and then recreate them using CGI techniques and now, thanks to FabLab, I’m able to take these to the next level and bring them to life with full, 3D models,” he said.
“FabLab is essential to me. It really is a very valuable resource which has made it possible for me to bring my designs to life. It’s a fantastic service and I’d urge anyone and everyone to try it for themselves to see just how great it is.”
FabLab, which is supported by BT, is one of a number of facilities at The Word: National Centre for the Written Word at Market Place, South Shields.
Others include a lending library of more than 70,000 books, a digital media wall, interactive touch-tables and StoryWorld, an immersive and magical storytelling experience for young children.
The Word also boasts a large exhibition space currently showing Shiver Me Timbers: Pirates on page stage and screen and a smaller exhibition celebrating Lost Dialects.
Mike Hamilton, strategic ICT manager, says customers like Mr Flett are exactly who the centre is designed for.
“To see what Kevin has created here in FabLab is truly inspirational,” he said. “He is exactly the reason FabLab exists, to welcome people in from the local area and give them the chance to use the latest technology to create incredible things.
“A lot of people are still totally unaware what we do here, and even what 3D printing is all about, and we really hope others will be inspired by his work and come down and take a look for themselves.”
FabLab is running two sessions in the coming months, giving people the chance to see its facilities in action, ask questions of resident experts and make something they can take away with them.
The first is a drop-in on Saturday 21 October, between 10am and 2pm and this will be followed on Saturday 2 December with FabLab in Christmas Action, from 10am to 4pm.