What’s it like being a Modeller?

Robert Unterberger, Tobias Kollbauer, and Sabrina Kraus | Hands & Minds

There is nothing better than creating a brand with your own two hands. Just ask our Clay Modelling and Hard Modelling teams.

What do you do at KISKA?

ROBERT: I’m a Senior Modeller and am partially responsible for the clay modelling area. That’s where the 1:1 models, so vital to the design process, are created.

TOBIAS: I´m the head of KISKA’s rapid prototyping team. As a Hard Modeller, I mainly print 3D parts for products, car models, and motorcycle prototypes based on CAD data. 

SABRINA: I see a lot of confused faces when I tell people I’m a Junior Clay Modeller. Before explaining what I do, I like joking that I play with clay all day! Even if modelling clay isn’t what we know from childhood, but instead a clay-wax mix…for adults. 

Describe your day-to-day work.

TOBIAS: We can all agree that no day is like the other because every project is different, with their own rewards and challenges. After that, a day in the life of a KISKA Modeller is unique to each of us. We have our own routines and processes.

On my side, there are a few things that I do every day. The first is checking the 3D printers to ensure everything was printed properly overnight. Sometimes a product can take up to four days to print! 

If everything’s okay, I’ll remove, clean, UV-dry, and sand all the printed parts to get them ready for the paint shop. Then I’ll fire-up the machines again for the next project. Knowing which parts take priority requires constant communication with Project Managers.

I also do some other tasks, like laser cutting, building rough prototypes out of wood, laminating, welding, and aluminium printing. 

SABRINA: Personally, I like to start early when the studio is empty and quiet. It’s exciting to watch it come to life while I’m working on a model.

ROBERT: I start my day with a quick coffee before taking a fresh look at the models.

SABRINA: Often, clay modelling includes roughly milling products with data from the CAD Modellers. For a new model, I prep the data for the machines and oversee the process. With the milled clay in front of me, I can start refinement. We use a range of tools to do this, including rough rakes and sharp blades. Each serves its purpose.  

ROBERT: During this phase of clay modelling, we work in constant coordination with the Designers to transform their final sketch into a model you can see and feel. Step by step, you work on every proportion.

SABRINA: Finally, we digitise clay models with the 3D scanner, so the refined surfaces can be worked on even more by the CAD Modellers.

ROBERT: After a few months, if the model is finished and approved by all sides, it will be checked again for surface quality, so it can be painted and made ready for presentations. 

How would you describe your team dynamic and how you work with KISKA clients?

SABRINA: The team dynamic is great. It’s international, and with so many different characters there’s always a way of finding solutions.

TOBIAS: Agreed. Everyone is a specialist in their own field, so if anyone needs support, help, or ideas we’re here for each other.  

ROBERT: How we work with other KISKA teams is also important. We build models right next to the Designers, CAD Modellers, and Project Managers, so the exchange of information and collaboration is very fluid. The willingness of people to help is a great part of KISKA. It’s just how things are done

On the client side, we usually work with them in-house since hard models are a big part of presentations and technical reviews. We’ll even work out ergonomics with test-drivers while they sit and stand on the models.  

What’s the best thing about your job? And, the most challenging?

ROBERT: I love the daily challenge of doing justice to a design, as well as the needs of the client and end-user. The challenge is reconciling all of them as well as possible.

TOBIAS: It’s great when I can use my creativity and expertise to create the best and most straightforward solution. Also, I like that I get to organise my own day. It makes me feel like I’m my own boss.

The biggest challenge in 3D modelling will always be short timelines. Jobs always get done, but you need full concentration and cool head. 

SABRINA: Shaping products with my hands is a beautiful thing and standing next to a finished model is a special, fulfilling feeling. Getting there however, while considering the bigger picture and not getting lost in small details, isn’t always easy. 

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