Benefits of 3D Printing in Architectural Work

What are the benefits of 3D printing in architecture? How is the technology used in the architectural industry? Read on to find out.

Today, designing architectural objects has completely gone digital. All architects are familiar with CAD software that can create 3D models for better visualization of the objects being created.

In this regard, most newbie 3D printer users wonder where to get 3D models. However, this question is irrelevant for architects. Architects usually need to create 3D models from scratch based on the projects they are working on.

If 3D models of already existing buildings have to be created, then 3D scanners for large objects can be used. With these equipment, you can create 3D models of even huge objects.

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Therefore, as we have established, architects have no problems coming up with models to be printed. But, why do they need 3D printing?

To understand the benefits of 3D printing to the architectural industry, let’s consider several interesting cases:

Benefits of 3D Printing for Architecture Work

1) Visualization of objects before selling them

When buying real estate or planning to build a home, clients face a difficult task. Clients often want to visualize what the house or apartment will look like after construction and completion of all work.

JB Architecture studio, which specializes in 3D visualization in architecture, uses 3D printers to print prototypes of their future buildings.

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According to the studio, integrating architectural 3D printers into the workflow makes it easier to build communications with customers and achieve the desired result. The clients receive their projects in miniature models, with detailed interiors and even the furniture and appliances arranged; from a toaster to a refrigerator.

For clients, this is like a game they can participate in. For example, they can make a different arrangement, try several options, and so on.

By using a 3D printer to make miniature models of architectural projects, the risk of rejection of a project order significantly reduces.

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2) Digital 3D modeling

When creating large architectural objects, one cannot do without a 3D physical model. Such a model can significantly speed up interaction with a customer who is not used to analyzing digital models. Moreover, the model helps in perceiving the future object on a physical model much more fully.

In fact, the physical model is the only way to quickly and clearly convey the proposed project to the customer.

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iKix, an architectural 3D printing firm in India iKix, has been helping architects for over 20 years to accelerate products to the market.

According to the firm, there are two main problems that architects have to deal with:

  • Poor understanding of the customer
  • Insufficient development of the project at the initial stage

For these purposes, a physical layout is needed.

Making layouts by hand is very time consuming and costly. In fact, each such layout becomes a separate creative project, and not a tool for optimizing work. Moreover, most of the layout is usually at the final stage of creating a project for presentation to a client.

By using a 3D printer, a project can be ready in 6-10 days. On the flipside, and a hand-made layout takes over a month. Moreover, with a 3D printer, you can simultaneously print several layouts at once, e.g., for the customer, general contractor, authorities, etc.

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As far as rapport is concerned, printed layouts help avoid unpleasant situations. Fr example, a customer may be satisfied with a drawing of a residential complex. But looking at the 3D model, he may find that the buildings are arranged too closely.

This problem could be solved by adding additional amenities, for example, a pool and fitness room.

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Parametric Architecture

In this section, we’ll cover parametric architecture. This refers to architecture in which, due to the complex shapes of objects, it is not possible to implement a volumetric physical layout with anything other than 3D printing.

This style is a kind of a mix of architecture and mathematics, which results in special building structures. Here, a huge number of components lend themselves to analysis, which are then lined up into a clearly verified algorithm.

One of the brightest representatives of this trend is the legendary Zaha (Zahirela) Hadid, who was one of the first to use 3D visualization and computer graphics.

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Zaha Hadid Architectural Agency is still engaged in research in the field of 3D printing and digital design.

Projects in parametric architecture are usually implemented with plugins for existing programs, or in the bundle of Rhinoceros + Grasshopper programs. This software by McNeel & Associates is popular with architects for its intuitive interface, which simplifies the work.

Urban Infrastructure

3D printing helps not only in the design of houses and residential complexes but also urban infrastructure, i.e, in the construction of roads, bridges, utilities, landscapes, etc.

Scandinavian consulting company Ramboll Group uses color 3D printing in its urban infrastructure projects. Volumetric layouts made in color with texture and landscape turn out to be 3 times cheaper than physical layouts created in the traditional way. The 3D layout also require almost no effort. You just need to set the correct scale.

To create architectural models, you need to create a model using programs developed by Autodesk or other graphic applications. From there, special slicing programs cut the model into many parts. Finally, the printer’s extruder creates a model layer by layer.

Ramboll Group uses these 3D printing opportunities to stand out from competitors, and this has helped them win tenders. For example, the coastal landscape in San Diego was printed in just half a day. Traditionally, it t would have taken several weeks to be created by hand.

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Conducting Project Presentations

Another successful example of 3D printing in preparing presentations is by Robin Lockhart of OBM International.

The company had a problem; coordinating design projects was taking too long. Integrating a 3D printer into the workflow helped with the construction of the new headquarters. A mock-up of workplaces was printed with the ability to create different configurations. The design components were put in different places and this helped to make the right decision.

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Beginning an Architectural Career

For aspiring architects, a 3D printer is a very important and valuable tool to gain experience and avoid costly mistakes.

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You can quickly make changes to both important elements of the project and to individual decorative details. Moreover, in large architectural offices, dozens of people can work on one project at the same time. It is also much easier to establish effective interaction between them when there is a common physical object to be analyzed.

Experimental Design

3D printing can also be useful in modeling abstract projects that are difficult to implement. These can be objects for a Ph.D. thesis, for a master’s research and so on. If the projects involve complex spongy or cellular structures that cannot be built at present because of material limitation, the models can be 3D printed

3) Restoration of damaged architectural monuments using pre-made 3D models

It is difficult to restore an architectural monument damaged in a fire, flood, or for other reasons. It takes years, sometimes decades, of painstaking work of restorers, architects and artists. Such monuments can be restored fast and accurately through 3D printing.

For example, in China, there is a program of widespread 3D scanning of cultural heritage monuments so that they can be recreated in the event of complete or partial loss.

Also, an ancient city in Thailand has been digitized. This will give archaeologists and historians important information about the site in the future.

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With the help of scanned historical objects, digital mapping is implemented to create virtual monuments of architecture.

For example, this was done with the ancient Chinese caves that are under UNESCO protection. Carbon dioxide from a large number of visitors destroys ancient frescoes and sculptures. By creating virtual caves, people will be able to visit them at any time and avoid harming the relics.

Photographs, video recordings, 3D scanning, as well as panoramic roaming technology are used to digitally protect the cave and create such virtual spaces.

In addition to creating virtual reality to reduce the flow of visitors to the cave, Chinese developers also want to use AR glasses in the project as well as audio guides in museums. Perhaps in the coming years, this technology will be widespread.

Subsequently, with the help of 3D printing, it will be possible to restore the damaged object much faster.

What Equipment Should Architects Choose?

What kind of equipment is best suited for the production of architectural prototyping? Well, the answer is: any!

Every 3D printer can be used for these tasks. All 3D printing technologies can be useful. Resin 3D printers such as the Phrozen Transform with a large print area and 4K matrix are ideal for creating small, detailed models. With these printers, you can print miniatures with maximum detail.

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Zoomed -in 3D printers like the Raise3D Pro2 Plus are great for mockups.

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For example, the famous Atrium architectural studio uses the Raise3D printer for architectural prototyping, creating prototypes of buildings according to their projects.

Before the advent of desktop 3D printers, architectural drawings were first printed on a conventional printer. However, this did not provide the clarity that a 3D layout does. The workshop was prompted to buy a 3D printer by a large-scale project of the Neskuchny Home & Spa residential complex on Leninsky Prospekt.

A 3D model helps the customer form the correct idea of the object, show details, and quickly make changes.

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Printers that print with plaster, for example, 3D Systems ProJet 660, are used to create detailed color layouts. With their help, you can get a full-color model that will not require post-processing and painting.

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SLA 3D printers with a large working chamber (for example, Formlabs 3L ) can quickly create large objects for scale models.

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SLS printers can create complex layouts that are not available to printers using other technologies.

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Among the scanners are models such as the Shining Pro 2X Plus for small objects.

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… and for more serious objects, models such as the Faro and Leica Laser Scanners are suitable.

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If you plan to start using 3D printing in your work, get in touch with us. We will be happy to advise you and help you with the choice of the necessary equipment.

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