Man of Steel to contribute £9m to South Yorkshire region

Posted on 16 Sep 2013

A report by Sheffield Hallam University's Business School estimates that the Man of Steel sculpture in South Yorkshire could contribute £9 million to the regional economy, Nick Lerner writes.

The report says that, of an estimated annual visitor income of £224 million in Sheffield and Rotherham, the 30-metre Man of Steel sculpture could increase visitors to the region by 4%.

To be installed in 2015 and seated on an accessible three-storey building positioned on a former landfill site, the proposed landmark is already bringing business and community organisations together and providing a focus for innovative community ideas.

The highly polished steel figure will be seen from Rotherham, much of the city of Sheffield and from the M1 motorway, which carries 100,000 vehicles per day.

“We have the steel, fabrication, construction and sponsors in place for a public opening in 2015.” said the creator of the sculpture, artist Steve Mehdi. “The figure represents Mankind and, despite its size, it does not impose itself on people.”

Digital Platform
Dassault Systèmes 3D technology was used to develop an exact digital 3D replica of a bronze casting made from Mehdi’s packaging tape constructed original. This virtual sculpture helps generate physical versions of the Man of Steel from different materials in different sizes.

Sheffield Hallam University’s Geometric Modelling and Pattern Recognition Group used laser scanners to measure and digitise the precise dimensions of the original work. Machining specialists at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing (AMRC) then converted the data and input to Dassault Systèmes innovative technology which allows design and engineering functions to be conducted on a unified software platform.

This simplifies and speeds the project’s progress and development. Dassault Systèmes software at AMRC is supplied and supported by Value Added Reseller Applied, a reseller.

The digital sculpture and its associated data are now used by builders and planners, stakeholders, art collectors and the public to engage and interact online with the project. With access to a 3D-printer people can even download the 3D digital model and make their own Man of Steel to reflect on.

Metal Workers
The development, construction and installation of the full scale Man of Steel involves several hundred people across a range of employment areas in the Sheffield City Region. These include, off-site design and fabrication, rapid prototyping and manufacturing, on-site engineering and deep pile foundation work, as well as installation and fitting out the visitor centre.

These professionals are enabled by the use of the digital model, and its associated data, to collaboratively innovate and communicate on the project.

Currently a three metre model has been made at the AMRC, an art collector’s 30cm limited edition in bronze has sold out and an edition in silver is planned. The large-scale steel version positioned high above the city will be based on the original laser scans to ensure that the artist’s vision and intent are retained through to completion.

Community resource
The project has inspired groups of people in Sheffield, Rotherham and elsewhere who are looking at the sculpture as a reference point for education, art and other cultural and community projects.
The sculpture will be built in an area that has suffered significant economic setbacks and has recently been defined as an ‘enterprise zone’ by the Government.

Mehdi said. “The creation of a 3m Man of Steel caused a rush of interest which helped to advance the project. 3D technology has allowed us to show not just what the installation will look like but how it works as a long term community resource.”

Stephen Chadwick, EuroNorth managing director of Dassault Systèmes said. “People can experience the Man of Steel before it is built using the same 3D software that is being used in its construction. This brings everyone involved closer to the project and helps to spark ideas, innovation and practicality.”

Nick Lerner