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This is where 3D printing comes to help architects. Using 3D printing for architecture allows to quickly create a tangible model. The impact of a physical object is stronger than a visualization on a computer screen. Start physically creating directly after modeling your ideas. A 3D printer does all the work for you, saving time on creating a model or shaping by hand.

Conventional methods of making a model allow you to quickly create boxes, but a curved object like a stadium provides a serious challenge. To ensure a high-quality 3D print it is essential to keep the design rules for 3D Printing in mind. When designing your model you need to take into account the fact that your model is built up with closed surfaces and printable wall thicknesses.

You can use a 3D Printer to print detailed designs such as complex facades, interiors, environmental elements cars, trees, people , roofs etc. A 3D printer can also print large flat floor surface, though using a laser cutter for this kind of parts might suit this purpose better. With a 3D Printer, you can also create other types of objects which can help you show your client what you mean, or what your vision holds. And showing what you mean is a really strong tool in getting a message across, since people respond stronger to visual information as opposed to written or verbal information.

Making a beautiful and correct scale model also used to be done by craftsmen, who would have an expertise in this field of work. But with a 3D printer, you can easily upload the model to the printer and have it 3D printed without leaving your desk. This means that you can have your model ready the next day.

Heating the platform can prevent the bottom corners of objects from curling upward, which is a common issue, especially when printing with ABS. With some build platforms, you apply glue from a glue stick to the surface, to give the object something on which to adhere. This is workable, as long as the object can easily be removed after printing. In some cases, you have to soak both platform and object in warm water for the object to come loose.

A few 3D printers use a sheet of perforated board with tiny holes that fill with hot plastic during printing. The trouble with this method is that although it will hold an object solidly in place during printing, the object may not easily come loose afterward.

10 of the Best 3D Printers for Architects in 12222 Reviewed | Top Brands Compared

If the build platform becomes tilted, it can impede printing, particularly of larger objects. Most 3D printers offer instructions on how to level the build platform, or provide a calibration routine in which the extruder moves to different points on the platform to ensure that the points are all at the same height. A small but growing number of 3D printers automatically level the build platform.

Setting the extruder at the proper height above the build platform when commencing a print job is also important for many printers. Such "Z-axis calibration" is usually performed manually, by lowering the extruder until it's so close to the build platform that a sheet of paper placed between extruder and platform can move horizontally with slight resistance. A few printers automatically perform this calibration.

Closed-frame 3D printers have an enclosed structure with a door, walls, and a lid or hood. Open-frame models provide easy visibility of print jobs in progress, and easy access to the print bed and extruder. A closed-frame model is safer, keeping kids and pets and adults from accidentally touching the hot extruder. And it also means quieter operation, reducing fan noise and possible odor, especially when printing with ABS, which can exude a burnt-plastic smell.

With most 3D printers, you initiate the printing from a computer via a USB connection. Some printers add their own internal memory, which is an advantage because they can keep a print job in memory and continue printing even if the USB cable is disconnected or the computer is shut down. A few offer wireless connectivity, either via A downside of wireless is that, because 3D printing files can be up to 10MB in size, it can take much longer to transfer them.

Another connection method that we have seen is Ethernet. Many 3D printers have SD card slots from which you can load and print 3D object files using the printer's controls and display, while others have ports for USB thumb drives. The advantage of printing directly from media is that you don't need a computer. The downside is that they add an extra step, in transferring the files to your card. Typically, wireless, SD card, or USB thumb-drive connectivity is offered in addition to the basic USB cable, although a few models offer one or more of those options.

MakerBot 3D Printed Model House

Today's 3D printers come with software on a disk or as a download. It's Windows -compatible, and in many cases can work with macOS and Linux as well. Not long ago, 3D printing software consisted of several parts, including a printing program that controlled the motion of the extruder, a "healing" program to optimize the file to be printed, a slicer to prepare the layers to be printed at the proper resolution, and the Python programming language. These components were derived from the RepRap open-source tradition, which was what spurred the development of low-cost 3D printers.

But today, manufacturers of 3D printers have integrated these programs into seamless, user-friendly packages. Some 3D printers also allow you to use separate component programs, if you prefer. Below are the best 3D printers that we've reviewed recently. They cover a wide range in price, features, and printing methods, but they all represent quality. For more information on what 3D printing is, and how it works, our 3D-printing primer is a good place to start. And be sure to check out our roundup of the best overall printers. Easy to use. User-friendly yet powerful software.

Safe design. Relatively quiet. Cons: Limited filament colors compared with competitors.

Touch screen is not particularly responsive. Pros: Superb print quality. Automatic resin feed.

Best 3D Printers for Architects - Printers Magazine

Touch screen. Several custom resin types available. Cons: Printer couldn't detect one resin cartridge in our testing. A few confusing error messages. Takes time to master printing. Pros: Easy to use. Very good print quality. Safe design for an open-frame printer. Cons: Printer setup through MakerBot Mobile app can be tricky. Somewhat pricey filament.

3D Printing Benefits Your Business

Pros: Dual extruders. Large build volume. Good print quality.

3D Printing: Not Just for Professionals

Easy setup and operation. Cons: Pricey. Relatively slow printing at default resolution. Bottom Line: The Ultimaker S5's dual extruders, good print quality, large build volume, and easy setup and operation make it worthy of our Editors' Choice as a professional-grade filament-based 3D printer. Pros: Simple setup. User-friendly software. Solid print quality. Flexible build plate makes object removal easy. Multiple connection choices. Pros: Easy to set up and use. Powerful software. Quiet operation. Supports a variety of filament types. LCD with SD-card slot. Self-leveling print bed.

Easy to remove finished objects from print bed. Cons: Print quality inconsistent at times.


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No bundled filament. Open frame increases risk of burns from a hot extruder. Relatively sparse connectivity options.


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It's a good choice for schools and hobbyists, and anyone willing to invest in a powerful and versatile 3D printer. Strong print quality. Reliable, misprint-free printing.

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Dual extruders let you print with two colors or filament types. Several connection choices. Cons: Long print times at default resolution. Pros: Low price for a two-color 3D printer. No misprints. Cons: Poor documentation makes the learning curve longer than it should be. Requires use of proprietary filament. Pros: Quiet. Connects via USB 2. Reasonably priced. Cons: Some objects pulled off the platform during testing. Poor documentation. Modest build volume. Limited to printing with polylactic acid filament PLA.

Budget price for printer and filament spools. Versatile software. Cons: Frequent misprints on certain test objects. Slightly balky touch screen. As Analyst for printers, scanners, and projectors, Tony Hoffman tests and reviews these products and provides news coverage for these categories. Tony has worked at PC Magazine since , first as a Staff Editor, then as Reviews Editor, and more recently as Managing Editor for the printers, scanners, and projectors team.