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Stefania Dinea


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I am Stefania Dinea, an architect who mixes 3D printing, VR, parametric design and blogging daily and I will share some of my 3D printing tips & tricks with you. This series is my overview about the process and my work-around. Please feel free to comment and add. 











Hello again,


I have been away for a while and during this time, being pressed by my two week deadline, I realized that I was spending too much time designing the “Ultimaker house”  rather than explaining how to deal with complex projects and hit my end goal – which is to explain my work process. I guess in one way or another we all get carried away at some point and focus more on the fun things. However this is how far I got with it, and I will probably finish it at one point just for fun – but that is a villa and I need some time to patch it all together.



However for now I decided to continue these series on the Autodesk Revit sample project which has plenty of everything already in it, and plenty of things to fix and adjust in order to make it suitable for 3D printing.




So again, I have to make the site, and create my base. However, I have already explained how I do that in previous posts, so there is no point in repeating. One quick tip though, if you don't want to move the building pad points, one quick solution fix will be to place a vertical shaft/shaft through your site. 




That way you minimize the number of points you need to add to your floor.




To begin, start hiding in view, all the things you do not need:

Such as – entourage, furniture, railings. You can do these by either selecting a category in your 3D view, right click – Hide in View – Category.



or by pressing V V on your keyboard which will send you direct to Visibility settings.



But before you get to serious about these settings, don’t forget to make a copy of the 3D view, dedicated specially for 3D printing.





For the easy version, however I do recommend the VV option, deselect everything first. image.thumb.png.6edf3789f9a1e3f7c1f28eae512f77b8.png

Then begin with the things you want to see, which include – floors, windows, roofs, stairs (in case you have some exterior stairs), doors, columns/structural foundation. Remember, your site is a floor and mass – we will get to that aspect in a minute.

Pay close attention to the windows however, you might want to keep just the frame and the mullion for this stage, watch out also for Curtain wall mullions

After everything irrelevant was taken out – I am left with this:


Here is what is hidden:


Now, you might want to look inside the house and see if there are any extra details you might want to get rid of. Remember, section box is your best friend.


And as we proceed, we will start hiding in view interior details such as – stairs, interior walls. We will do this to increase the printing speed, taking out unnecessary volume and irrelevant elements that will not be seen anyhow. 


When you are done with the ground floor, move up a level.


You might want to also hide the partition floor as well.


The next step is to fill the building with a mass. Why? Because that way the whole building will be considered a solid, and cura will take over by offering the right amount of infill, saving time, increasing quality, and also avoiding epic fails.

So you begin by working in parallel – plan and 3D view.



In the plan view, Massing and site, In-Place Mass.


The outline of the massing, should be ideally be fitted to where the frame of the window begins, that way, when exported to .stl, they will merge as a solid.


In the 3D view, make sure you adjust the height of your mass so it fits nicely between the floor and the roof, usually I lower it a little bit more, so it also acts as a base.






The same thing will be done for the 2 story part of the building, only instead of a plan, I will model the massing in a section.  To model a mass in sections – grids may be required, so make sure you have a couple before that.



Same principle of the window aspect has been applied for the mass, and in order to get relief details, the massing should be modeled on the center line of the roof and walls.


Some small adjustments should be made in plan view and 3D view.



Now, the question is how to split this model up?

1.      You can print it with site

2.      You can printed in multiple pieces

For projects like this, if you don’t own an UM3, and you do not have access to a PVA accessible printer, things can get really complicated. For safety reasons, I will always recommend splitting it up.



Since this section focuses on creating more high resolution building facades, which should highlight window and access placement, I think it is safe to export the building as it is illustrated above.

And this is how it looks in Cura, clean, easy to print.


This layer section is made to specially highlight the reason why the building was filled with massing, which is a considerable time and material saver. Not to mention you don’t want fragile mullions and dripping floors from lack of support.



Having an UM 3 or above, does come in handy, whether you are a fan of breakaway or PVA it does save a lot of time and cures a lot of headaches – the same model can be done with a single extrusion printer, but not as nearly as easy. For this scenario I used PVA support, which is my favorite, mainly because I only drop it in the fish tank when I am done, and no extra work is required on my behalf. To save time and material (again) I only use the Support touching the build plate function.


Also a preview of the site plus building model attached if you feel like printing the file with the site.



 I will come back with some photos of the results as soon as I get them out of the printer. ?








Now, as you can see from the photos, the mullions are not obvious - so one thing I have mismanaged was thickening the mullions. That is something you also need to watch out for. 

You start by selecting all in a 3D view > go to filter > select just the Curtain Wall Mullions > Modify > Unpin >Properties >  Edit Type > Create a new profile. 




Right now the profile is 40 mm which in scale will be 0.4 mm - a detail so small it will not be perceived as an obvious feature. I will change it to be 2 mm , therefore I need 100 mm on each side of the profile. Remember to do changes like this on a decentralized file, you don't want you actual BIM project to suffer. 




Here are my new settings:



This is the result, it may look chunky in a 3d view, but I believe in a 3D print it will be just right.




If you have parametric windows, you might consider doing the same for that as well. 





The Revit result looks like this, now time to export and see how it performs in Cura.




So now, it looking more to where I wanted it to go. Again, will come back with updates as soon as I get to print it. If you have no patience, I have attached the file below: Autodesk house complete - v2




The result with the improved mullions: 










Next time on the blog it will be the last blog that has 100% Revit content. BIM families are excellent however they have an issue, when scaled down they become invisible. Check these screen grabs from the unaltered Revit model, and tell me – what’s wrong with these pictures?




Autodesk house internal.stl

autodesk house with site.stl

Autodesk house complete.stl

Autodesk house complete - v2.stl

Edited by Stefania Dinea
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Yes, you should. Their instructional materials are just the worst. Too focused on the, "Look what we can do!" instead of, "Look what you can do!." When I was teaching (former ACI) I remember looking at one of their exercises and immediately saw 3 different, simpler ways to do the same thing. It was horrible. And their testing is not how well can you do something, but how well do you read the question. Kinda like, if you do not know the secret handshake, you are not accepted into their club.

Edited by kmanstudios

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@kmanstudios haha - you are so right! I remember when I did my Revit certification back in 2013 - I felt so trapped while reading the questions- those things were harder to understand than my Cambridge exam! Also about methods- this is just one way to do it of course, and as for Autodesk software - there are always at least 3 different ways to do this - that is why BIM managements is very hard - because everyone has their own way of working and getting everyone to dance to the same tune is beyond a normal state of confusion.

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2 minutes ago, Stefania Dinea said:

there are always at least 3 different ways to do this

That is what I see as the problem from their methods....It is not about getting it done, it is choosing that, just one way, that they want you to do. It is all centered around money...by the book, study and regurgitate when you pay for certifications......


I find your work much more accessible as well as clear and thought out. As you say, it is one method, but it is a well explained method and that is what has been missing in my opinion from them for a while. Personally, I gave up with them. It just became more engaging to just do it. Maybe the advantages of being so old....LOL

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10 hours ago, Alex L said:

Amazing tips and tricks again Stefania, thanks for this and you have given me the solution to the tricky Curtain walling/glazing issues when printing these from archiCAD. I will try with a mass inside the building when I get a chance.

Glad my tips can cross software platforms, I forgot about one thing with the mullions, they need to be thickened as well, will come back soon with the correction and example - the model is still in the fish tank :))

Edited by Stefania Dinea
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On 6/1/2018 at 5:42 PM, Alex L said:

Looking forward to seeing it all finished...


We have been a bit too busy lately to be doing much printing but we have just been setting up our new 3d print and modelling area in the middle of our studio so hoping it will be a popular place!

 That's how I started a year ago - by placing it where everyone could see it. Good initiative!!

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