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3D Printing – A Learning Process from an Architect’s Point of View

By Mario Pistone, Vice President, Parkin Architects Limited

In June 2015, I purchased a 3D printer – an Ultimaker 2.  I intended to learn about the technology, about its application in the architectural field and to understand the role the process might play in communicating with clients.  It has been a journey of experimentation, failure, exploration and learning.

The concept was simple enough.  Create a 3D model, export it to a program that develops the tool path, and watch as a heated nozzle methodically cycles within a lit box transforming the graphic that was on my screen into a  physical object.

Or at least, that’s how it was portrayed, initially.

Within moments of unboxing my printer, I excitedly loaded a Sketchup model of Rotary Place – a 4 storey office building – to create a 1:400 print. It did not turn out as planned.

Architectural digital 3D models are representations of space.  3D printing is the creation of artifact.  An artifact is bound to rules of geometry, and in particular – volume.  Sketchup models are free from these restraints, which is both the beauty and challenge of the program.

Since the failure of the original 3D print, I’ve had numerous successes and explored many different materials and aseembly methods that have produced useful products and detailed models. The aim of this blog is to regularly feature a particular challenge related to architecture and design and to share information about the process and lessons learned along the way.




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