LOS ANGELES — AECOM Technology Corp., a provider of professional technical and management support services for government and commercial clients, recently used rapid model prototyping (RMP) technology to deliver a physical model of historic structures comprising London’s Beckton Sewage Treatment Works as part of enabling works by Thames Water for the Lee Tunnel.

In addition, the innovative use of building information modeling (BIM) technology helped preserve the actual structures by revealing critical design and engineering aspects that would have been undetected through historical drawings.

The upgrade was performed in order to enable the future development of the Old Sewage treatment works site, allowing it to receive the drive shaft for the Lee Tunnel. The Lee Tunnel shaft now is under construction, and work on the 4-mile Lee Tunnel drive, which will be 26 feet in diameter and 262 feet in depth, will commence during 2011. The new shaft required the surface structures, including the Old Engine House, to be demolished, with the underground structures being filled in with lightweight foam concrete. To ensure the accurate planning of the sludge removal and concrete infilling process and for discussion with external stakeholders, Thames Water commissioned AECOM to provide a physical model of the historic structures.

AECOM used RMP technology, a method that produces a physical print from 3-D computer-aided design (CAD) data, to build layers upon existing layers, and create the physical model for the client.

“On the Beckton project, our CAD team was faced with the daunting task of using large amounts of historical drawings to create a 3D CAD-generated model,” said Chris Abdee, a technical director at AECOM. “To have produced the CAD model by traditional methods would have been extremely time consuming; however, by utilizing our BIM tools, we were able to generate all elements of the model in an effective and efficient manner.”

BIM produces a concrete and realistic product that reflects the finished building or design element with minimal cost prior to site activity.

“The RMP process provided an opportunity for the client and stakeholders to make informed decisions during the design process regarding the finished project,” Abdee said.

The enabling works were completed in late 2009 with the Lee Tunnel due for completion during early 2015.