Thursday, 20 February 2014

3D printing in architecture - update

The ever changing world of 3D print truly is a dizzying place at the moment. Late last year Fripp Design announced a full colour silicon based printer. Recently, I heard of the Mark One which allegedly 3D prints in Kevlar, carbon and glass fibre. 3D Systems recently announced 3D printers that print in candy, chocolate, ceramic and a full colour plastic 3D printer. Stratasys announced that the Connex3 will print multi materials in a palette of colours.

And yet with all this change the old ZPrinter range that was designed by ZCorporation and acquired by 3D Systems two years ago is still the number one 3D printer for many architectural models. What is it that makes this printer continue to hold this position?

The ZPrinter 650 (relaunched by 3D Systems as the ProJet 660) has three significant features that lend it to making architectural concept models:

Quite simply, the machine makes same day or next day models. The longest build you could print would be completed in about 20 hours.

This means architects can design right up until the night before a presentation and have a model in their meeting in the morning.

This machine has a build size of 380 x 250 x 200(z)mm, giving a footprint a little smaller than the A3 paper size.

This allows a good size architectural model to be printed in a single build. Larger models can be tiled to make larger models.

This may seem an odd characteristic. This gives two important advantages over other machines. Firstly, powder is self supporting so you do not need to build a support structure and then remove it afterwards. Secondly, parts can be hollowed thus reducing the amount of material used in the model.

Self supporting means just about any geometry can be created and hollowing parts mean much lower costs.

Oh, and it is a full colour printer too. Actually, most of the models we print are white but colour models photograph better!

3D printed at Lee 3D on ZPrinter 650

To find out more about 3D printing of architectural models visit or call George on 07563 243 891

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