3D Printed Architectural Model Part 1: Optimize the Design for Print

Article by Dimos Siagoulis updated August 27, 2015


Hello everyone, during the past few weeks I have been working hard on designing an architectural model to be 3D printed and displayed at the Javelin Oakville office. The purpose for this task is to show the capabilities of 3D printing architectural models. In this 3 part series we will review:

Choosing an Architectural Model

When I began the 3D Printed Architectural Model project I went through a few different prototype models before I realized that I’m really not all that creative when it comes to architecture. Upon realization, I did what any unimaginative person would do – I sourced an awesome architectural model on GrabCAD. After receiving permission from the original designer Eduardo Siqueira’s to use his CAD files, I was on my way to 3D printing the model he designed – sort of.

Planned 3D Printed Architectural Model

Eduardo Siqueira’s Architectural model “House Office”

 house office 3house office

Optimize for 3D Printing

As many of us know, 3D printing has both support material, and model material such as ABS. If I were to take this file and put it directly on the printer as is, sure I would save a lot of time but the model wouldn’t look visually appealing. The reason for this is every overhang that you see in the model would need to be supported with support material, and the final print would be limited in colour choices. Knowing this, I spent a day and a half (10 hours total) redesigning the entire model to optimize it for 3D printing.

Front Elevation of 3D Printed Architectural Model Part

My revision of Eduardo’s Architectural Model which is ready for 3D printing

Side Elevation showing intricate window design

Side Elevation showing intricate window design

Modular modeling to save time and money

I took all of the components and broke them up in assembly format. Each piece now has tabs and slots to allow the parts to fit together cleanly. Not only will the final effect be much more visually appealing, but the total cost will be much lower. We don’t need to waste all of that time and resources on printing support material where it is not needed. Now each part fits flat on the printing tray and can be printed as efficiently as possible.  In the pictures below you can see some examples of how the pieces were designed to fit into each other.

Check out the next blog post in this series to see the model 3D printed!


Component for 3D Printed Architectural Model Part

One half of the second floor. There are tabs and slots throughout the model to allow the model to be assembled.

model 5

model 6

model 7

Base plate to align the model and have a platform to rest on.

Get More Information

To learn more about 3D printing model buildings visit our Architecture industry page for more examples and case studies.

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Dimos Siagoulis

Co-op student from McMaster University on my second work term at Javelin Technologies Inc.