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3D printers are a modern architect’s best friends. With the right machine, you can streamline the design process, quickly create intricate models at a low cost, and easily communicate your ideas to your clients. Discover how 3D printing is taking architecture to a new era.

3D Printing in the Architectural Industry

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Create concept models and rapid prototypes
Customize interior and exterior designs
Simplify massing studies and area visualisation
Scan spaces and objects into accurate 3D models

How 3D Printing Unlocks New Opportunities in Architecture

Architects are using 3D printers to open new doors for their businesses and clients. With innovative technologies, they are bridging the gap between virtual and physical realities. From preliminary designs to the final construction process, 3D printers have something to offer for every architectural application.

Concept Models

Since times immemorial, architectural concept models have been invaluable in construction. They help demonstrate a building design’s viability to clients, secure funding for a project, and resolve engineering and construction challenges.

Traditionally, making concept models manually or through conventional manufacturing has been a slow and costly process. Now, 3D printers help simplify the modelling process. CAD software makes designing complex models easy, while 3D printing brings them to life as accurately detailed concept prototypes.

Architects can create stunning models in a matter of hours instead of days. You can save money in material costs while showcasing your design to your clients with more detailed models.


Renzo Piano Designs to Build

Italian-French architectural office Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) has a design philosophy based on the concept of “design to build.” Led by Pritzker Price laureate architect Renzo Piano, the company relies on extremely detailed scale models to perfect its designs.

RPBW uses Formlabs SLA 3D printers to create complex, multi-part models. The machines have helped them produce complex shapes and geometries, like staircases and spherical structures quickly and cheaply.

“Sometimes, you have some geometry that is not easy to do by hand, for example, curved surfaces. Doing those by hand is almost impossible, or you have to spend something like one week instead of a few hours. But if you 3D print it, of course, you can do exactly what you see in the 3D file. We try to use the 3D printers as much as we can to facilitate our work,” said Francesco Terranova, model maker at RPBW.


Customised Designs

Many architectural clients want unique buildings and interior spaces. Intricate and complex exterior textures and panels or one-of-kind lighting fixtures or sculptures are great ways to help a building stand out from the crowd.

But creating these customized elements with traditional manufacturing techniques is costly and time-consuming, which limits their applicability. 3D printers resolve this issue by allowing architects to easily produce fully customizable 3D models.

In the best-case scenario, architects can print end-use-ready elements that can be directly implemented as is. 3D printers can also support conventional manufacturing, for example by printing masters for casting or injection moulding.

MATT Architecture Creates Customized Tiles

London-based MATT Architecture was working on the Ilona Rose House Project. For this project, MATT Architecture designed multiple unique façade panels.

The design process required the ability to quickly produce multiple design iterations of the façade panels. Using Ultimaker 3D printers, MATT Architecture created full-size prototypes of the panels. They also created the master mould to mass-produce the final design in concrete.

“3D printing opened up the possibility of increasing the frequency and complexity of this iterative process between the digital model and physical artefact,” explained MATT Architecture.


Area Visualisation

Creating a building requires more than just designing it. Architects conduct massing studies and area visualization to explore how the building fits into its surroundings.

With 3D printers, architects can quickly recreate entire city blocks down to the most minute details. Combined with the ability to modify 3D models, it’s fast and easy to alter designs to reach an ideal design iteration for the area.

Make Architects Wins Design Award

English architecture firm Make Architects was hired to design a building, set to be constructed in East London. As part of the project, the company used Ultimaker printers to create a 1:1000-scale model of the entire surrounding area.

In only two weeks, the Make Architects team manufactured hundreds of detailed building models. Compared to creating the feasibility model by hand, Make cut costs by 90% and lead time by a month. With their building design, Make won the Structural Steel Design Award in 2017.

“Ultimaker 3D printers haven’t just sped up model production and saved costs. By automating the production of additional context models, they allow our model-makers to focus more creative attention on the site’s actual design,” said Paul Miles, Make Architects model shop manager.

Make Architects Wins Design Award

3D scanners can support 3D printing in architectural applications. 3D scanning devices can digitize everything from small decorative details to entire rooms or buildings into high-accuracy 3D models.

There are many reasons to 3D scan objects for architecture. Scanning a room can help create precisely fitted interior elements. Meanwhile, 3D scanners can help capture and recreate unique design solutions when renovating historically significant buildings.

You can find a 3D scanner to suit every application. Handheld 3D scanners — like Peel 3D and Creaform — can capture even the smallest details. To scan entire rooms, 360° 3D scanners, such as Leica, can complete the job in minutes.

3d printing in architecture industry

Why Solid Print?

With your purchase of a Formlabs 3D Printer from Solid Print3D, you are not only paying for the hardware, but the world-class support and training that we provide is made accessible to you. Whatever your requirement, we, as a leading UK reseller will aim to support you in the operation of your new Formlabs SLS printer.

World Class Support

We provide world-class support from our in-house 3D printing experts, to make sure that the experience you have with your new Markforged 3D printer is as seamless as possible.

Training in SLS Printing

We also offer training in how to fully utilise your new 3D printer, with courses available for FDM/FFF, SLA and SLS printing.

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