An architectural model is a three-dimensional representation of a projected or already built house, a complex of buildings or an entire city. Layouts are a necessary part of the design, with their help the designer or developer evaluates the composition and harmony of the building, and also clearly demonstrates the project to the customer.

Layouts are made on a computer, which simplifies the process and saves resources. 3D printing allows you to quickly and economically present a visual layout to the customer. In this article, we will look at the features of architectural models and volumetric printing.

We create and print architectural models of any complexity. Order the service in the industrial design studio KLONA.

Creation of architectural models

Architectural layout of the building in 3D model: advantages

Architectural models are complex products with many small details, and there are a number of nuances to consider when creating them. Creating a real architectural model sometimes takes many weeks and hundreds of dollars. But 3D printing significantly reduces the cost of the project. Plus, it takes hours, not weeks, to create models.

Architectural companies have been using CAD (Computer Aided Design) to create designs for many years. If the studio decides to install a 3D printer, they won’t need to make any software changes. It is enough to connect the device to the computer.

Architectural model of the building in 3D model

3D models allow architects to work more freely without fear of making mistakes, and designs are much more accurate than real layouts. Rendering 3D models on a printer is fast and with significant resource savings. Such visualization is clearer and closer to reality than sketches, drawings and digital models.

Therefore, 3D printers quickly gained recognition in the industry, and more and more studios use them for a variety of purposes – up to printing real objects of urban architecture.

House 3D printed by Apis Cor.

By the way, another direction of modern science is manifested in 3D printing of buildings: bionics in architecture – models, the structure of buildings, as well as their shape, repeating nature. For example, when creating light yet strong walls, the bone structure is taken as a reference. In April 2014, the Chinese implemented a project for cheap 3D-printed houses. Below in the photo you can see the structure of the walls, made according to the example of bone tissue.

Read also: “Creation of architectural models: new realities, new opportunities”

3D models

Architectural models on a 3D printer : program selection

Architectural layouts on a computer are created using a number of programs. One of the best is considered CAD (Computer Aided Design), or rather, its subtype ArchiCAD – a program made by Graphisoft especially for architects. It makes 2D and 3D sketches, models based on sketches with the addition of photorealistic textures, and visualization of the project. The program models not only individual buildings and interiors, but also complexes of city buildings.

Modeling in ArchiCAD

Other programs for architects:

  • Revit;
  • AutoCAD Architecture;
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D – more suitable for engineering communications;
  • Chief Architect – better at home design;
  • Rhino3D;
  • CATIA;
  • SketchUp – Helps with architectural sketches and sketches;
  • 3D Studio Max;
  • Solidworks is more suitable for engineers.

Frank Gehry uses CATIA in his work

Architectural layout of the house: scale selection

After planning your model, the next step is to select the scale that best suits your project. This decision is influenced by two factors: area and detail. If you need to show large areas, for example, architectural models of cities, set the scale to 1: 500 or 1: 1000. Then the model will not be too large and easily visible.

For a single building, choose a scale of 1: 200 or 1: 100. At this scale, a fairly detailed detail is obtained, and windows, doors and balconies will be clearly visible. For showing only a part of the house, a scale of 1:20 – 1:50 is suitable. The larger the scale, the more detail can be discerned.

We will print even architectural layout Kiev a. Order the service in the industrial design studio KLONA.

3D model of San Francisco.

3D model of San Francisco.

How to make an architectural layout: at home , district, city

The creation of a model in any program follows the same principles. A building or complex of buildings is assembled from elements: windows, doors, walls, ceilings and floors, and so on. One model contains hundreds and even thousands of elements – the number depends on the object of the layout and the taste of the architects. Different designers incorporate different elements into their creation.

Stages of creating a model:

  • construction of sealed solid frames;
  • removing unnecessary holes;
  • checking topology and counting polygons;
  • inverting normals;
  • finding overlapping surfaces;
  • removal of moving elements;
  • the smallest elements for printing (SPF);
  • strengthening and support;
  • the architectural layout must be hollow;
  • removal of unnecessary geometry.
Building modeling in CAD.

Building modeling in CAD.

Creation of impermeable elements and removal of dips

3D printers love to be given models of geometrically correct objects – wireframes. Elements should not be permeable, for example, a hexagon has all six faces. If it has only five faces, then it is an open frame with a hole. Hole geometry is often printed incorrectly.

When removing holes, the rule is used: all adjacent triangles have two common vertices. This achieves a continuous surface without dips. They are removed by special applications and manually.

Left - low polygon count, right - high polygon count

Left – low polygon count, right – high polygon count

Dips in the surface are also due to the conversion of files from one format to another. Sometimes the number of missing or distorted polygons is so large that you have to manually align them. Software applications are only good at dealing with external surfaces, so it is important to review the project yourself.

The more simple elements the better. With a lot of wireframes, it’s easy to fix one by one and eliminate all errors. The fewer elements, the more difficult it can be to fix the whitespace.

Elements with different texture

Elements with different texture

Topology checking and polygon counting

Topology checks and polygon counts are needed to ensure quality prints. The smaller the polygons, the smaller the file size and the easier the printer can handle the job. To make a very smooth model, you can make 10,000 polygons or 2,500. The printed model will feel equally smooth to the touch in both cases.

Read also: “The future of 3D printing or an invention that will change everything”

Invert normals

Most 3D models are composed of triangular polygons. Each polygon has three points and a normal is an invisible line perpendicular to the polygon surface. They tell the printer how to add material.

If the normals are facing outward as expected, the printer will add material from the outside. If the normals look inward, the result will be a shrinkage of matter. Fortunately, most modeling programs automatically correct all normals.

Invert normals

Removing overlapping surfaces and moving elements

Coincident, overlapping surfaces cause a lot of problems. They make the print result unpredictable. For example, two walls make up the corner of a house – usually this is not a problem. But if they have different textures, then the surfaces of the walls are different from each other. Elements align in unpredictable ways, which will affect print performance. Therefore, you should avoid this: correctly align planes with the same textures and choose high-quality printers.

The same applies to moving parts and dots – you need to remove them, as they unwantedly affect the print.

Removing overlapping surfaces and moving elements

Smallest Printable Feature (SPF)

What is the smallest printable unit for a 3D printer? It depends on the size and complexity of the project. Usually, the smallest details for bearing elements are 3-5 mm, for ornaments and thin components (windows, doors, columns) – 0.5-1 mm. Still, the dimensions are individual for each layout.

Smallest Printable Feature (SPF)

Strengthening and support

Some details of the layout require artificial support and reinforcement due to their subtlety. Overly delicate elements may not survive the process of being removed from the printer, polished and embedded in the model. Integrated support remains within the layout – adding additional arches and columns, thickening doors and windows. The second way to save the model is by removing elements after finishing. For example, the overhangs of the roof need to be supported with something, because they often break off when the model is removed.

How a 3D printer works.

Hollow Model and Removal of Unnecessary Geometry

In cases where it is important to show the appearance of the model, then to save materials and reduce weight, it would be wise to remove all unnecessary inside the model.

The more elements, the better – but the extra parts waste material and time to print them. The best architectural layouts have a very simple structure.

Read also: “Methods and terms of production of plastic products”

Hollow Model and Removal of Unnecessary Geometry

Architectural layout: price

The price of an architectural project depends on:

  • detail and complexity of the model;
  • gluing components;
  • coloring;
  • backlight settings;
  • type of plastic and other materials for a 3D printer.

In some cases, you can save on hollow models, and in others – on printing from separate parts. The price is negotiated on a case-by-case basis. Architectural models in Ukraine usually cost from UAH 5 per gram of plastic spent. The price rises in case jewelry printing is required, for example, figurines and jewelry. Some studios set a minimum order – for example, from 50 UAH. The term for printing the layout is 3-5 days due to the high complexity and a large number of elements.

Nothing is easier than order an architectural model and its 3D printing. See our site and call the KLONA industrial design studio to find out our prices.