3D Printing in Architecture and Design

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3D Printing in Architecture and Design

Printing files containing designs or realisations in three-dimensional format is gaining importance within the recent communications and industrial landscape. It is exponentially expanding its application field by appearing in the design of open spaces, streets and parks.

Despite the transformation from drawing boards to digital monitors, architectural models remain of great value, facilitating architects’ creation of graphic representations.

A significant example of these new developments in 3D printing can be found in the architecture and design sector. In this field, having a three-dimensional preview of a future model, object, prototype, or project is a unique advantage to having a precise idea of achieving the desired result. The better the printing technologies, the more detailed the prototypes will be.

Three-dimensional prints in architecture are an asset because they allow you to optimise processing times and make the necessary changes to achieve your goal without delays or surprises during the project’s execution.

The most popular 3D printing technologies for creating architectural models are stereolithography (SLA), deposition melting (FDM), selective laser sintering (SLS) and binder jetting.f

3D printing in design and architecture opens up an infinite world of creative solutions, surpassing traditional construction and prototyping methods and creating accurate models that require minimal cost, time, and tiny human capital. The application fields of 3D printing are manifold and include:

  • Create basic conceptual models to decide, among different options, which projects deserve to be developed and pursued and which should be discarded at the outset, avoiding waste of human and financial resources and time. In addition, one can also decide how many parts to create the model and subsequently assemble, disassemble and reassemble it, or make a cross-section of it to determine what works and what does not. The history of attempts and proposals to the customer will remain both on the computer and physically printed out so that it is visible, and you always have the evolution of the various stages of the project at your fingertips;
  • volumetric studies and visual impact studies that clearly show the reference project in its surroundings, such as, for example, the plan of an entire area at the design stage that gives a clear idea of the spatial relationships between the volumes of the different elements in that specific context. This is very useful in the field of urban planning to show different buildings with different heights and expansions, models of buildings to create using 3D printing, the model of the building perfectly to scale and faithful to the original, as well as to help understand the actual appearance once the work is finished with accuracy and detail unattainable for a paper render. 3D printed buildings are still part of the experimental architecture field, but one can already realise the fundamental role of digital production in the construction and creative design, not only of buildings but of entire urban sections, parks, open spaces and museum installations;
  • impressive presentations for potential customers with three-dimensional printouts visually illustrating the project’s highlights. This type of presentation will certainly optimise and facilitate communication with customers. In addition, the 3D model is an excellent marketing tool because, unlike paper renderings, it helps give the project a sense of solidity and can be used for exhibitions at trade fairs or events. For architects and designers, presenting a 3D model to share an innovative idea has a much more significant impact than showing a digital file. The advantage of 3D printing lies in bringing the client’s best ideas to life in architecture, design, product design, home design, fashion design, museum displays, merchandising, packaging design and much more.

Architects, engineers, planners and designers agree that 3D printing is revolutionary for architecture and design, as it allows for the creation of several prototypes in a short period, reducing, if not eliminating, any ambiguity and misinterpretation in project execution. Three-dimensional printers are incredibly versatile and traversable tools that, in the design phase, reduce the number of steps leading to the creation of the model, resulting in significant savings in time, cost and human resources.

The virtual three-dimensional design drawn up on the computer is then printed directly with a reduction in the model creation phase. In addition, a very high level of refinement is maintained with complete control over how much and how to go into detail, including the perception of surface material and texture. However, these are just some of the advantages of 3D printing architecture and design, and there are many other possibilities for development in the industry.

Factors to consider in 3D printing for architecture and design

1) A professional team to support the architect or designer

It seems unnecessary to emphasise that to achieve quality work in architecture on time and within budget and fully satisfy the client’s needs; it is necessary to rely on professionals who can offer an optimal 3D printing service for even the most demanding request. Therefore, a team of experts in the field is needed to support architects in their architectural 3D printing, plastic 3D printing, architectural 3D printing, design projects, and experimental architecture projects. Calibrating performance based on the customer’s needs, budget, and results is indispensable in meeting all requirements in this field.

2) Machinery for 3D printing in architecture

Another essential factor to consider is the high quality of the machinery with which 3D printing is performed. To perform this task, 3D printers and scanners must be equipped with very high technological sensitivity and capable of reproducing textures, textures and colours to achieve highly realistic designs. These tools make it possible to use elaborate modelling and printing technologies to realise solutions that simplify the creation of prototypes and objects of everyday, personal or business use by transforming a professional’s idea from a digital draft to a physical model.

3) Types of projects

Different types of printing can be distinguished depending on the budget and the result to be achieved. As far as materials are concerned, there is a wide range of materials for high-quality three-dimensional prints, including resins, thermoplastics, and metals, and here is a quick presentation of the main ones.

Plastic, or rather fine polyamide powder, technically called PA12, is perfect for novice designers and professionals with many years of experience thanks to its high precision and low cost. The main advantages of its use are the high customisation possibilities and fast model production times. In the production of models, it is essential to have the possibility of choosing between different modes or even a synergy of other technologies to guarantee a service that is fully adherent to the customer’s needs, of high quality and conforms to the final result and budget set.

When designing new products or some of their components, one of the essential features of the design is undoubtedly colour. Three-dimensional four-colour prints are, in fact, very useful in the specific field of design and the realisation of design objects. Once the product’s shape, colour and material are chosen, it will allow absolute uniformity between all the pieces without even a slight variation in their characteristics and with precise reproduction of the selected colour.

Another three-dimensional printing method that yields excellent results is resin printing, which is ideal for producing prototypes, equipment, models and various printed products. This type of three-dimensional technology applied to architecture and design makes it possible to print particular minutiae, small and minute details, even in high definition, allowing for exciting and innovative experiments in product design. A modern and daring field of application is, for example, footwear design and, specifically, heel design. Still, it is optimal for all types of experimentation and for giving free rein to one’s inventiveness.

A final type to mention is high-quality 3D printing in metal such as, for example, aluminium or stainless steel to create exact parts with tiny details that are practically invisible to the human eye. This cutting-edge technology finds application in precision mechanics, jewellery, goldsmiths’ workshops and fashion accessories that require the production of complex geometries and thicknesses that are not easy to achieve through traditional metalworking methods. These products can, however, be placed on the market with increasing speed.

4) Possibility of customising three-dimensional architectural and design projects

Being able to choose between different materials and technologies, as well as the dimensional accuracy and the possibility of realising geometries of any complexity, make 3D printing an essential tool in the product design sector. Product designers can, therefore, test their ideas, see how they are realised in practice, and receive direct feedback from the customer. In addition, 3D printing allows different and multiple iterations of the same piece or part of the object, allowing shape modifications and various redesigns until the product meets the customer’s taste or the designer’s initial idea.

Three-dimensional printing of design plastics also guarantees broad freedom of customisation of objects, allowing designers to unleash their imagination and creativity concerning colour, texture, transparency, flexibility, affixing of lettering, graphics and photos, logos, and much more. 3D-printed furniture, such as tables, chairs, and stools, but more minor decorative elements, such as ornamental figurines and vases, are becoming increasingly popular.

Even if not entirely 3D printed, many objects contain parts machined with traditional methods and other components made with these modern technologies in an innovative mixture of styles and materials, thus enabling ‘modular’ work.

Many manufacturers and designers use three-dimensional prints to increase the complexity of their designs and offer increasingly customisable furniture so that their customers have a wide choice of materials and shapes. Some of these creations are also starting to be seen in cities such as Lucca, which has 3D-printed benches installed in the city centre, or even Amsterdam or, in Greece, along the coast in Thessaloniki.

In conclusion, if you are active in this field, you should not be caught unprepared because the best architects and designers have already stated several times and in various authoritative fora that 3D printing has marked a turning point in design, incredibly improving models and prototypes.

Therefore, this is an area where countless new developments will come in the not-too-distant future, and to keep up with them, one must constantly keep up to date. There is only one way to get the best 3D printing services on the market: rely on experts in the field. Finding the right partner means carrying out any 3D printing project in the field of architecture and design in total safety, with a partner able to understand the needs of the individual or company operating in the world of design and architecture. FAMA 3D is the right partner for small and large format printing, as it will listen to customer needs promptly and propose the best solution. Start bringing your architectural or design project to life by requesting an instant 3D printing quote.

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