3D Printing In The World of Architecture?

August 23, 2016

The robots are taking over! 3D printing has increasingly become a tool used by architects for the construction of scale models. While many people are familiar with the traditional model building techniques, which involve cutting flat pieces of materials such as wood, plastic, and paper,  piecing them together with glue, 3D printing offers a clean, digital alternative. 3D printing allows architects to create building models using computer programs that translate digital design to three dimensional objects with a printer, which lays down successive layers of a material until the model is created.

 

The benefits and reasons to use 3D Printing over the traditional method of model building include:

  • The geometries are too complex to model accurately by hand, especially when a design curves in more than one direction, such as shapes tapering and twisting.

  • Small scale options allow the designer to switch in and out of a site base.

  • Duplicate copies of the same model are needed for promotional use.

 

Reasons to stick with traditional model building:

  • Large elements like a base/site model can be cost and time prohibitive with a 3D printer.

  • It can be difficult to represent different materials – while 3D printers can print in different colors, using different colored resins to represent materials, it can leave the model looking like a toy. With current technology - white or clear models are best used to show form, not materiality.

 

Feast your eyes on the hypnotic printing process –3D printers are so dynamic, they can even print parts for themselves! Click HERE to see how they work.  

 

Here’s the process:

 

  1. Create a three dimensional digital model. Most projects are modeled in a 3D program like Revit from the very beginning.

  2. Choose the type of printer. Each printer has size limitations that will help determine how big your model can actually be produced without seams.

  3. When the scale of your model is finalized, and you know the level of detail that will actually show up in the print at that scale, take the Revit/digital model and rebuild it in its most simple parts, removing unnecessary elements. Those 3D toilets inside the model are the first things to go!

  4. Print the model and allow time for the layers to progress – this can take the majority of a day depending on level of detail and size.

  5. Clean up excess material and rough edges.

 

Carefully follow these steps and your final result can look just as great as our model for the Winthrop Square proposal posted here!

 

 

 

 

 

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