FOXBORO -- From its giant view screen to oversized tight-end Rob Gronkowski, everything about Foxboro’s Patriot Place and its main feature, Gillette Stadium, is big.
But a dozen Foxboro High School students recently brought the town’s most famous public space down to size by using Google Maps and a 3D printer to create a scale model.
They managed to fit the stadium, its grounds, and almost all of Patriot Place onto an area of 18-by-24 inches.
The model, which took several months to build, was requested by fire department Deputy Chief Mike Kelleher to aid in event planning and directing personnel to particular locations.
“It’s difficult to visualize when you’re driving around the area,” Kelleher said. “But with a model in front of you, it’s easy to point things out.”
The detailed model was created by the school’s advanced computer-aided design class taught by Ralph DiBona whose 12 students used computer images to judge heights of structures and map out locations and the spacing of buildings.
They had to do some reckoning of their own, however. DiBona said the latest Google Maps images didn’t include Patriot Place’s newest hotel. So they had to model it themselves.
They also used Patriot Place’s signature water tower to gauge the height of other buildings located on the property.
The scale model includes details like vegetation, parking lot numbers, the MBTA railroad line and even the tiny (in scale) guardhouse on the main entry road.
DiBona said the model was made using the latest 3D printing technology which allows a printer to make a model using input from a computer-aided design program.
“It’s a lot like your computer printer that sprays ink onto a piece of paper,” he said. Instead of ink, however, the 3D printer spews out layers of plastic. By building up many layers, the printer is able to render 3D shapes.
DiBona said the project was a change of pace for students, who usually use the printer to create 3D models of tools.
Students who participated in the project included Christian Martin, David Trufan , Jenna Stamatov, James Hogan, James Harding, Nate Rogers, Owen Whitney, Carly Madden, Andrew Whalen, Colin Thoener, John Hall and Julia DiCenso.