3D Printing for Architects

Benefits of 3D Printing for Architects

Clients enjoy receiving 3D printed scale models during presentations which increases the value of each pitch.

Vincent Hector, KCAP

Architecture is about realizing a beautiful design, vision or combining form and function to create something new. A creative idea starts in the mind. Translating this to your peers sometimes can be challenging, let alone your clients. This is where 3D printing comes to help architects.

Using 3D printing for architecture allows to quickly create a tangible model. The impact of a physical object is stronger than a visualization on a computer screen. Start physically creating directly after modeling your ideas. A 3D printer does all the work for you, saving time on creating a model or shaping by hand.

A huge advantage is freedom in form. Conventional methods of making a model allow you to quickly create boxes, but a curved object like a stadium provides a serious challenge. A 3D printer can create any object for you to convince your client with one or several high-quality models during your pitch.

How to Use a 3D Printer for Architects

Designing for 3D printing

To ensure a high-quality 3D print it is essential to keep the design rules for 3D Printing in mind. When designing your model you need to take into account the fact that your model is built up with closed surfaces and printable wall thicknesses.

3D Print your design

The great thing about 3D Printing is that you are able to print complex shapes and highly detailed designs that will be too time-consuming if they were built by hand. You can use a 3D Printer to print detailed designs such as complex facades, interiors, environmental elements (cars, trees, people), roofs etc. A 3D printer can also print large flat floor surface, though using a laser cutter for this kind of parts might suit this purpose better

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The value of visual confirmation

With a 3D Printer, you can also create other types of objects which can help you show your client what you mean, or what your vision holds. And showing what you mean is a really strong tool in getting a message across, since people respond stronger to visual information as opposed to written or verbal information.

Create scale models yourself

Making a beautiful and correct scale model also used to be done by craftsmen, who would have an expertise in this field of work. But with a 3D printer, you can easily upload the model to the printer and have it 3D printed without leaving your desk. This means that you can have your model ready the next day.

Accelerate the design process

Making a 3D print means that the designer can create their own models without losing time. With that, the designer can also accelerate its design process by faster iterative design. Additionally, keeping track of the progression of the design can also encourage even bolder ideas since these ideas can be directly communicated with their commissioner or superior.

Applications of 3D printing for Architects

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The Forbidden City

A prime example of a big project is printing of The Forbidden City for the Ming exhibition in Amsterdam.
The project consists of a total of 980 separate buildings. Such model would take a very long time to finish following the traditional approach of architectural modelling by hand. Moreover, it is the first time that a complete city is being made into a scale model using a 3D printer.