Vizoo xTEX scanner in action

With 3D Digitization, Material Bank Aims to Provide Designers with Even Simpler Specification

A partnership between sampling platform Material Bank and Vizoo, a Munich, Germany–based leading digitization company, could be the beginning of the end of the material sample slush pile.

It’s a familiar scene in any architecture or interior design office—samples of products and building materials are ordered, evaluated, and then either placed in an already overcrowded materials library or relegated to a massive slush pile around designers’ desks. But what if you could have an exact digital replica of the material that displays its texture, reflectivity, draping qualities, alternative colors—in three dimensions—right on your computer? You could then order the actual sample to be delivered overnight, making sure you only get the samples you want.

The future is now. A partnership between Material Bank, the world’s largest marketplace for sampling and specifying architecture and interiors materials, and Vizoo, a Munich, Germany–based leading technology provider for advanced digitization of materials, could be the beginning of the end of the slush pile—and an important new beginning for offices looking to reduce waste and advance sustainable operations.

“Vizoo’s proprietary scanning technology analyses the surface, and computer algorithms give you a sense of the color, reflectivity, and texture of the surface,” said Scott Riley, vice president of virtualization for Material Bank. “Then qualified designers can order the actual sample, which will be delivered next day from our 400,000 square-foot logistics facility in Memphis, just minutes from FedEx’s world hub.”

Renderings of base color, normal, height, and roughness
A texture stack taken from a material scan evaluates multiple physical qualities to create a rendering. COURTESY MATERIALBANK

Using Vizoo’s advanced xTex A4 material scanner, Material Bank is able to produce a “digital twin” of the material and put it in a format that can be pulled into familiar architecture software like Revit and Rhino. Remarkably, designers place an order by midnight Eastern Time, the actual samples will be at their desks the next morning—always free for design professionals and always shipped carbon neutral.

“Design goes through many iterations,” said Martin Semsch, founder and CEO of Vizoo. “It can be a lot of waste and time and money out the window. The sustainability profile of this partnership has two aspects: the designer gets a better idea of material versus a photograph; and there are fewer samples sent and energy is saved.”

Vizoo's xTex Scanner in action
When Vizoo was just a fledgling startup, Semsch, who has a background in computer science, and his colleagues needed a name. “In the name Vizoo “’Viz’ is for visualization, and two of our employees had already worked at Google, so that was the origin of the double ‘o,’ he said. “The idea came to us on a visit to a Munich beer garden.” COURTESY MATERIAL BANK

Vizoo, founded in Munich in 2013, has heretofore worked with the fashion industry to replicate fabrics. “The fashion market is still our largest base, but now this will allow us a better entry into architecture and interior design, and even the automotive industry” Semsch said. “Material Bank has such a huge number of materials that they need to digitize, and we are currently the fastest system on the market,” he added.

The exclusive hardware and software developed by Vizoo to capture material qualities is user-friendly. Made in Germany, the xTex A4 scanner features Nikon lenses and a maximum capture area of 11 by 7.9 inches. Its ease of use will allow Material Bank to further increase its already substantial share of the material sampling market by being the first offer its users both physical and digital samples. “Everything is coming down to how visual things are,” Riley commented. “It’s all about connectivity and visualization in space.”

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