These landform models can be called a variety of names - from topographic models, terrain models, or just a topography model. Whichever name you prefer, architects and engineers use topography models for many purposes. For over half a century our model makers have been fabricating land form models ranging from landslide terrain models, to a proposed terraced site for new buildings. As you can see in this category, the models generally have no detail other than contours. An option to consider for these landform models is formica sides instead of unpainted sides. Black formica is the color we stock, and it gives a more finished look to the topogrpaphic models, plus it protects the edge of the terrain models from damage. For these types of topographic models, the architect or engineer will often build the structures that will go on the landform model. Typically, these land form models are used as study models, and the architect uses them in-house to mock up various designs of the specific project. The terrain model is left unpainted, and once the architects are finished with their design process, they can elect to paint the topography model or send it back to us and have our model makers put on the finishing touches.
These types of land form models can be fabricated in a couple of days once we have the contour information. The information that we need from you is a CAD dwg or CAD dxf file showing the terrain model's contours. A pdf file will work but, requires a few more steps to set up the information for milling.
We will need the following pieces of information on the provided CAD file:
1. Contours which are numerically labeled so we know where the high point and low point is located.
2. An outline on the topographic map showing us exactly the area covered by the terrain model.
3. Model scale with a scale bar. The scale bar is so we can double check the scale of the provided CAD file, and to be able to convert the drawing to the correct model scale. A scale bar is not necessary if there is a dimensioned feature that we can measure such as a property line.
For us to complete a painted terrain map, we will need the color number from a supplier such as Parker Paints, Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore. Since we have been doing this for over half a century, in most cases we can give you a price range over the phone without even seeing any drawings. We just need to know approximate size of the terrain map, model scale, and approximate elevation change.
Even though these can be small projects, we as model makers very much enjoy them because it is nice to work on a model that goes from start to finish in possibly as little as 24 hours. In addition, there is just something magical about taking blocks of polyurethane foam and transforming them into interesting land forms.
The material these topographic models are machined from is very user friendly to cut away to fit your architectual features. A #11 x-acto will cut this material with ease. If you need to cut in buildings into the terrain model, a #16 x-acto blade is very much liked by model makers because it is 2.5x longer than a #11 - the real work horse.
Call or email us any questions you have about the process to get started on your landform model. If you already have a CAD file ready, email it to us and we can let you know if we need any additional information to get started. As a family-owned business now in the second generation, we have been making topographic models since 1960, and at this stage it is in our blood.
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