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Architecture & 3D printing

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Posted · Architecture & 3D printing

Hello all, This is my first post to this forum and I wanted to get some help from other users that might be using there 3D printer for Architecture work.

The frim I am working for has a project that is requiring around 18, 1/4 scale models of a mix of residential and commercial buildings. The original plan for these models was to create them out of basswood. When I offered the option to be able to print some of the smaller more complicated parts like, doors, windows, awnings, trellis the project team got excited. Both because of the added detail that we could provide, but the time savings on the model building it self.

My question to all of you is, How good of experience should I expect from bringing a Ultimaker 2 into our office with people that have never used a 3D printer before?

What kind of results can I expect & what shortfalls or limitations should be expected?

Thanks, I look forward to your comments.


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Posted · Architecture & 3D printing

Well the UM will certainly do a good job for you; I do not have a UM so have no vested interest in saying that!! I have never heard of ¼ scale, that seems awfully large! The biggest I have done is 1:100 scale- i.e. 1 inch of model = 100 inches of real life, which takes up most of the print bed. A ¼ of a door would not fit in the printer so I am guessing ¼ means something else and not one quarter.

Be prepared to spend at least a solid month learning and practicing. If you can avoid lots of colours then whilst you are starting pick two colours and stick with those and get used to them – different colours can require different settings which will only cause you extra work whilst you are learning.

Buy high quality filament; no doubt the American members on the forum can help you with that. In Europe colorFabb and Faberdashery are two of the best.

Start with simple things like a cube. Try different settings and establish which settings give you the best result; take notes you will never remember it all.

Layer depth is important for you; thinner layers, say 100 microns give better quality than 300 microns. Print some samples and agree with your colleagues which way you want to go. 100 microns will take approximately 3 times longer to print than using 300 microns – actually it will be less, maybe 2.6 times. Having said that I expect most of your prints will be done flat on the print bed, i.e. you would print a door, trellis, window flat, not vertically. In this case layer depth may have no impact on the visual quality.

Dimensional accuracy will probably be important to you for fitting your pieces to the main model; so you need to print slow – personally I never go above 30mm/s for my window frames.

Minimum layer print time will be important to you as I am guessing that whatever the scale is these will be fairly small pieces. You will probably need to print two or three concurrently. If I were doing an ordinary house I would probably print at least four windows concurrently.

If you need your windows to really look like glass i.e. almost transparent, do you really?, you will probably find it easier to stick some clear plastic onto the back of the window. If you really want to print them then use one of the Taulman nylons instead of PLA and then coat the nylon with 3D-XTC, you will find a video of this on the Taulman website.

Level of detail – of course this all depends on scale but e.g. door handles will probably be difficult. If you want say inset panels in doors or window rails that are curved or stepped, then you will probably want to work with a layer depth of 100 microns.

If you want mastic between your window frame and wall then the thinnest you can print realistically is 400 microns; that is the visual width of the mastic not the depth.

Scale is important. If you want to go smaller than 1:200/1:250 then it will become quite difficult.

Plenty more I am sure but maybe that will get you started.

Oh I assume you have given thought as to how you will get 3D models of your pieces, needed for 3D printing.


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Posted · Architecture & 3D printing

Thanks for all the info. On the scale, I meant to say 1/4" =1'-0". A 30x80 in door would end up being 15mm x 40.8mm. I believe I can still get a decent amount of detail working with that size of parts and still make them strong enough.

On filament, Ultimaker has set up a U.S. distribution partner (www.fbrc8.com) to handle the building and shipping of Ultimaker in the US. I have found that there price on filament is almost half what has been posted on amazon lately. Around $38 per 90m spool.

I am hoping to get my hands on the Ultimaker about 3-4 weeks before we really need to stat the model building process.


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