Price & Myers 3D Engineering

Sheffield's 'The Cutting Edge' Sculpture

Structural engineering has taken a leap forward at Price & Myers 3D Engineering with Digital Project. The London-based consultancy formed, in 2001 by Tim Lucas has built a reputation for engineering geometrically and structurally complex projects. Its inventive structures for buildings, bridges and sculptures are designed to produce an elegant, economical and rational solution.

Digital Project evolved from 15 years of experience gained by Gehry Partners in the use of CATIA in building design, digital contracting, project coordination, and construction of some very large projects incorporating organic 3D geometry. The success and achievements of Gehry Partners and Gehry Technologies Inc., was a major factor in Price & Myers 3D’s decision to invest in Digital Project. Tim Lucas, a Partner in Price and Myers 3D Engineering, said,

The software has been proved by Gehry on large scale very complicated buildings which gives us the confidence to tackle more challenging projects.”

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Price & Myers 3D worked in collaboration with Desktop Engineering, Gehry Technologies’ UK Business Partner. Its long-standing experience with CATIA gives it the skills to service the UK AEC market. Tim Lucas commented,

The team at Desktop Engineering have provided training and ongoing support, as well as detailed hand holding for some of our most complex requirements.”

Already the system has been used in the design of Cutting Edge, a 90m long stainless steel sculpture to be fabricated in Bristol, the structure consists of 160 laser cut and formed panels which have to fit together within a 2mm tolerance on a supporting framework.

The sculpture progresses from a circular cross-section to a pointed blade shape along its length. We used Digital Project to model each panel then, with the aid of design tables, we were able to repeat the panels over the surface of the entire sculpture.”

The software was used to generate the development of all the curved surfaces into flat panels ready for laser cutting, and it was also used to create cross sections of the sculpture at one-metre intervals to allow the fabricator to accurately build and check the structure.

We have found that Digital Project is very tolerant of large amounts of model data. We are able to add parts, and turn on and off elements of the design without any difficulty.”

Digital Project provides some powerful tools for rationalising building designs. Working in collaboration with architects, Price & Myers 3D can take an advanced shape and turn it into a buildable project while maintaining the original design intent. Tim Lucas explained,

Buildings are largely constructed of 2D elements such as beams, glass and plywood. We are working on a two storey roof extension to a 100m long Northern mill. The architect’s aim is for the extension to resemble woven silk fibres. Our solution achieves their requirement, but repeatedly utilises one radius of steel beam rather than randomly shaped beams. The result is a rationalised design which is far more economical and practical to construct.”

Price & Myers 3D has found that the ability of Digital Project to model parts and assemblies, 3D wireframe data, and carry out advanced surfacing is particularly valuable for rationalising and checking the structural integrity of a project. Utilising the wireframe model, nodes can be distributed across beams and trusses in preparation for structural analysis. Tim Lucas concluded,

The software has made it easier to arrive at an elegant solution and, because of its capability, the rationalisation of the design is likely to be better. Additionally, we are experiencing speed improvements of around 40%. We are now working on much more complex designs. Digital Project gives us the confidence to work on stadium sized projects.”


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Update on 'The Cutting Edge' Sculpture

Sheffield design team, Si Applied and international glass artist Keiko Mukaide collaborated in the development of the sculpture.

The sculpture is 90 metres long, and 5 metres high at the highest point.

The stainless steel was provided by Outokumpu of Brightside Sheffield, and the structure was manufactured by Jordans of Bristol.

The external material is 4mm thick, with a mirror polish on one side of the sculpture and a matt/satin finish on the other.

The sculpture was constructed in 8 pieces over a 6 month period, it was delivered to the site in 4 deliveries.

The Cutting Edge Sculpture in Sheaf Square, Sheffield, UK"Arriving by train in Sheffield visitors are welcomed by the huge Cutting Edge sculpture. Designed by Si Applied and located in Sheaf Square, the 81m long stainless steel and glass sculpture guides visitors gently toward the city centre."  photo courtesy of


The materials required to make the external structure weigh approximately 29 tonnes, the internal frame probably weighs about the same, therefore the whole sculpture weighs approximately 60 tonnes!

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