How the “Ice Guru” Is Using 3D Technologies in Custom Ice Sculptures

Our 2nd meeting of the MI3D. Local celebrities, “The Ice Guru“, invited us out to their shop to show us how they are creating custom made ice sculptures with various 3D technologies. This is EXACTLY what we set out for this organization to be! Most the people that attended had no idea this was even being done! I hear ice sculpting and I think hammers and chisels and even chainsaws! These guys still can still sling ice with the best of them but in order to streamline their process, they have integrated various technologies so that they are outputting cutting edge ice sculptures.

Well, let’s get down to my top takeaways from this event:

Ice Brigade on Food Network

About 5 years ago Randy and his crew did a TV show on The Food Network called “Ice Brigade.” The show followed them through creating various ice sculpture creations from Han Solo frozen in carbonite, a casino where all the game tables were ice, and ending the show with a chess game showdown in Rosa Parks in Grand Rapids, MI. He loved the experience but says it was very stressful to run a business and make the TV show. I thought this would be a great place to include pictures of some of their masterpieces!

When you think of an ice sculpting company, you don’t think of them using modern technology! These guys were the FIRST in the US to have a Canadian made CNC that specialized in cutting ice blocks. They beat companies in the big cities like Chicago and Vegas to the punch! They are serious about adapting their craft to the modern world.

 “Cutting” EdgeTechnologies

They are also using 3D scanning to bring objects in real life into the virtual world so that they can replicate them into ice, pumpkins, watermelons, and whatever else they come up with to cut. One of our MI 3D “board members”, Casey Dubois was virtual immortalized during the meetup and who knows how many Casey pumpkins we’ll see this Halloween…..

When Randy mentioned everything that he was going to be showcasing during the event he brought up VR and this had me curious. How was an ice sculpting company going to use VR as a valid business tool? Showing someone a picture of what their sculpture will look like is one thing, but being able to have them put a VR headset and be IMMERSED in it is something totally different.

In order to make their unique sculptures, they have to have a way to to make a lot of ice. They have these giant ice makers that take about a week to make a clear block of ice. The machine works by freezing from the bottom up and having running water on top of the freezing section. This allows them to obtain crystal clear blocks of ice free of most sediment! They do use un-pure, frosted blocks of ice for various projects to give a project a certain flair

3D Sculpting Software

sculptris demo

Just recently I learned about various 3D sculpting software that is out there used to create everything from video games and movie characters to…well… ice sculptures! They demonstrated the software Zbrush for us and it had me intrigued! I am a 3D guy but I hail from a CAD/parametric world with equations and dimensions. The things they create with this sculpting software would not be possible with traditional CAD software that I’m used to. Zbrush costs around $800 for the full package but if you want to get your hands dirty and see if this kind of software is for you, they suggested “Sculptris” which is essentially a free version without as many bells and whistles. I have started on my first creation! I don’t know what this guy will end up looking like but it is a fun software!

Machines and Humans Working Together

DSCF5969

Now like I said earlier, they are using CNC to cut out their ice sculptures but what I didn’t mention was that this gets them mostly complete. Most of their sculptures still require the human touch to clear things up and add definition. The Millennium Falcon below is a perfect example with the right side showing the “human touch” with all the details cut out and the left side is what came off the CNC.

Fidgets Spinners! Yes! I said Fidget Spinners…

 

What night wouldn’t be complete nowadays without fidget spinners? Let alone fidget spinners made of ice! Unfortunately Randy was so busy showing everyone his business that he forgot to put them out! I’m sure they be a big hit at the next meeting.

Thanks again Randy Finch for having us over to your place! It truly was incredible! I speak for everyone in appreciation for the good food and great beers.

This group is turning into something truly incredible! Come along with us for the ride.

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