Two Big Benefits of 3D Printing Architectural Models

Architectural models help architects put their vision for a client into physical reality, so that both the architect and the client can see a three-dimensional, physical manifestation of the plans that, up until that point, existed only on paper or in a 3D modeling program.

However, not every architect makes use of models because they can be expensive and time-consuming to create. It is not uncommon for a relatively-small model created using traditional stick construction to take two months or more to make and cost at least $20,000 – a cost that may be prohibitive for many smaller firms.

Fortunately, 3D printing has changed the game for architects just like it has for so many other industries. 3D printing architectural models is a way to not only cut the cost of making a model, but also significantly reduce the time it takes to make a model by hand.

Here are the benefits behind 3D printing architectural models and why any sized firm would want to consider adopting this technology for the future.

3D-Printed Architectural Models Cost Less

The cost of a large-scale model created by hand using traditional methods is quite expensive. The larger the model, or the more complexity that is involved, the higher the cost.

KMCA, one of the nation’s leading architectural model builders, was contracted to build large-scale models of two buildings in a new development in Washington, D.C., called CityCenterDC. The firm constructed large-scale models for tens of thousands of dollars, and was also tasked with building a small-scale model for use by the center’s sales team.

The firm estimated that the stick construction method would cost $20,000. To find a more affordable alternative, KMCA turned to 3D printing and used a Fortus 250mc 3D printer from Stratasys to build the core of the model in ABS material.

The result? The model cost just $8,000 – saving 60 percent of the original price.

3D Printing Takes Less Time

3D printing has proven to be a faster mode of construction and project completion across a variety of industries. Typically, this advantage is found with rapid prototyping and design testing, but it can also be found in model production.

In the project mentioned above, the projected time was eight weeks from start to finish using traditional methods. However, KMCA was able to use 3D printing to produce the small-scale models in just four weeks. 3D printing, therefore, cut the production time in half.

After the project, KMCA’s founder, Ken Champlin, commented on the project, saying, “The developer was pleased that we were able to produce a scaled-down model that looked just as good as stick construction and was considerably more accurate at less than half the cost and in half the time of traditional stick construction.” He added, “The developer was happy about the money they saved and even happier about being able to get their sales people on the road with a scale model one month earlier.”

These models and others produced with 3D printing sacrifice nothing in terms of accuracy and detail; in fact, it’s actually easier to create more fine detail in the model with a printer than doing it by hand – especially with the latest advances in high-precision 3D printing technology.

Less time, lower cost, and more accuracy and detail – these are all key advantages behind 3D printing architectural models, and something every architect and builder should consider.  Contact us today to find out more about how 3D printing can work for you.