Category Archives: Architecture

World Archery aiming for the Olympics with 3D Printing

The Olympic Games landed in Rio de Janeiro, turning Brazil into the first South American country to host the oldest sports event of all time. While welcoming many different athletes from all over the world to compete in a wide range of different sports, the Archery competition is where our gaze is specifically aiming on.

Since 1998, the World Archery is making limited edition pens out of broken arrows to give away to the VIP attendants of their competitions (learn how to make your own arrow pen here). But we can definitely agree that a special pen can’t just fly around on your desk – it has to be stored in a memorable way too.

During the 2012 Games in London, the World Archery used Cricket Balls to store the arrow-shaped pen in. While that was awesome, cricket balls have no symbolic meaning in Rio de Janeiro. This years’ Archery Olympics competition took place at the impressive Sambódromo, which you might recognize as the ending point of the yearly Rio Carnival, and definitely is one of the first places that comes to mind when thinking about Rio de Janeiro.

The Arrow Pen would not be complete without a symbol to remind the games in Rio, and what other material than our 3D printed Porcelain could represent the concrete arch better? The result is stunning, yet elegant.

The Sambódromo is a huge purpose-built area for the yearly Rio Carnival, but during the 2016 Olympics used for the Archery and Athletics Marathon events for the Olympics and for Archery in the 2016 Paralympics. Photo is courtesy of World Archery.

The Sambódromo is a huge purpose-built area for the yearly Rio Carnival, but used for the Archery and Athletics Marathon events for the 2016 Olympics and for Archery event in the 2016 Paralympics. Photo is courtesy of World Archery. Please note the Sambódromo Pen Holder is a gift from World Archery to a selected group of attendees and not part of Rio 2016.

By collaborating intensively with the World Archery and their 3D designer, we went through a few iterations to get a printable design and archieve the best details possible. Since we knew we had a very short time to print all the penholder statues, we worked intensively in speeding up our Porcelain printing process. This resulted in a lead time reduction of 50%! Read more about that and some tips for designing 3D Printed Porcelain in our previous blog.

Manufacturing larger than life 3D prints

Today is National Manufacturing Day, a day meant to celebrate the vibrant and modern tradition of manufacturing in America. 3D printing is commonly declared one of the fastest growing segments in the industry and there are incredible advances in the technology occurring every day. One of the most exciting new technologies comes from Branch Technology, based in Chattanooga Tennessee.


Branch has created a unique process for rapidly manufacturing large scale objects. Using their own process called Cellular Fabrication, Branch creates sparse wireframe structures utilizing a multi-axis robotic arm that can reach over 10 feet. The oversized printer extrudes a unique and heavy duty plastic material into a series of 3D, triangular matrixes. As the arm prints up they turn into a scaffold of walls which can replicate complex shapes. The walls are then filled with a variety of foams and concrete to create a solid and durable structure. 


the printed scaffold of material

Two elements of this new technique are extremely exciting and I think will prove to be highly successful about Branch Technology. First, the use of biomimicry will solve all sorts of problems we find in traditional architecture and design. Most naturally occurring structures are created with smaller modular repeating structures that are resilient to stress, easy to repair and efficient to build. This is true of plants and animals, including our own bones and skin. As a process 3D printing is much closer to how a plant grows than making a building out of brick and wooden beams. This could reduce the cost of building in remote areas or help create homes faster that are resistant to natural disasters like hurricanes and eathquakes. This is not to mention the aesthetic benefits of designing cool, large-scale structures with 3D modeling tools.


The final product filled in with other materials

The second successful element of this technique is that it only utilizes 3D printing for the parts that 3D printing is best at. The most basic elements which define the forms are printed so that is can be supplemented with secondary materials which make the forms as strong and permanent as needed. The whole structure doesn’t need to be printed in its entirety because that wouldn’t be cost effective or provide the best quality. The smart approach to using 3D printing is how Shapeways treats manufacturing as well. We use 3D printing to take create designs which couldn’t exist otherwise, but supplement this with techniques like casting in porcelain or metals to provide higher quality end results.

Both Branch Technology and Shapeways are innovating by using 3D printing to manufacture designs which were never possible before. To learn more, you can check out our Shapeways live Discussion series.

Daniela Bertol at MAD: Shapeways Designer in Residence

What is the geometry behind leaves, starfish, flowers, clouds, waves, honeycombs, seashells or the human body and movement?

This week Daniela Bertol, the Shapeways Designer in Residence at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC, will explore the geometric laws behind natural forms to recreate them as parametric digital models, which will be fabricated using the formlabs 3D printers. Several of the digital models will be developed from the explorations of Daniela’s book Form Geometry Structure: from Nature to Design. Each day of the residency will be devoted to a different “bioform” developed from a parametric associated software and 3D printed. Several yoga postures performed by the designer will be 3D scanned and 3D printed, providing 3D digital/printed models of frozen movements.

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3D Printing Architectural Maquettes, Models and Miniatures

Most of the architectural models we 3D print at Shapeways never make it into the Shapeways shops as they are private 3D prints for architects and their clients.  Not only do we print scale model buildings but often other items such as furniture, cars, people and animals that bring life and a sense of scale to the maquettes.

Architectural models 3D print on Shapeways

Iron Bridge (1:100 Scale) Design by Nathan2012 

Here are a few architecture maquettes, models and miniatures that are available to purchase in the Shapeways shops.  If you have a architectural 3D print, whether it be your student work, a historic building or client work that you can share, be sure to make it available in your Shapeways shop, it may be just the thing someone is looking for to add to their own 3D printed landscape.

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Glowing 3D Printed Architectural Models on Shapeways (VIDEO)

We see many architects 3D printing their models using Shapeways 3D printing service but most of them remain behind the scenes and never make it onto the Shapeways site or blog so it is always cool to see architectural 3D prints in the Shapeways marketplace to share what architects are doing.

Shapeways 3D Printing Architectural Models : 1 WTC

One of the coolest architectural models we have 3D printed at Shapeways lately is the 1 WTC by Stefdos which is a 3D model of One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) that glows when lit from within with an LED.

Shapeways Architectural 3D Printing Service

Shapeways Architectural 3D Printing Service Glowing Models

This amazing model that is 3D printed in full color at 25cm high is only $25 on Shapeways, that’s $1 per cm… bargain. Check out the video below….

Also check out New Orleans tower Rotterdam 15cm by the ame designer that also glows when lit from within. 

3D Printer architectural models Shapeways

Giant Robot-Driven 3D-Printer Makes Stalactites That Can Change on the Fly (VIDEO)

Great video (no sound though) of  giant dual-robot armed DLP Printer building some kind of monsterous resin stalagtite.  It is called ”Phantom Geometry” and is a masters thesis in architecture by husband and wife team, Kyle von Hasseln and Liz von Hasseln.

The project was developed in the Robot House at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI_Arc) and awarded the inaugural Gehry Prize. The work is focused on the development of a system for generating material volume from streaming data. The creators state: “This system of fabrication relies upon native real-time feed-back and feed-forward mechanisms, and is therefore interruptible and corruptible at any time. The streaming data input may be transformed or modified at any time, and such” interventions impact emerging downstream geometry.”  

The layers are approx 3.5mm thick, cured in about 90-180 seconds slowing to as much as 500+ seconds as the build progresses (maybe the bulb was dying?). Clear resin was chosen partly to be able to cure thick layers as well as easthetic reasons.  They were able to cure 1mm of resin about as quickly as 3.5mm. Layer thickness was chosen for speed & cost considerations. The main idea was to build a large, networked object within the intersecting workspheres of the robots allowing the object to bifurcate and merge with other neighboring stalactites. The second important idea is that the data was accessible in real-time.  They were able to modify the 3d geometry as it was printed as well as the 2D image of the sliced 3D geometry right before it was sent to the projector. They were able to control layer thickness on the fly and add perforations.  Because of this, they foresee very cool possibilities for scripting geometry.

Urban Planning with 3D Printing in Louisville, Kentucky

This is urban planning for people who thought the best part of Monopoly was playing with the little houses and hotels. At Louisville, Kentucky’s Ideas festival, community members got the chance to rearrange the city and try out new ideas for future development, all with the help of 1/1000 scale 3D printed models of existing city buildings.

The buildings were printed out live at the event by local hackerspace LVL1, who had collaborated with University of Kentucky architecture students to develop the models. Attendees were not only able to move the 3D printed buildings around the huge map of the city, but the building’s designs could be modified via Google SketchUp and printed live on one of the five 3D printers that LVL1 provided. Sort of a real-life D&D tabletop game, although with no dice or goblins, and more discussions of traffic patterns and zoning designations.

3D printed model buildings from Vision Louisville at Ideas Festival in Louisville, Kentucky

The interactive event was used to kick-off Vision Louisville, a planning initiative to shape the next 25 years of the city’s development. The city plans to hold on to the 3D printed building models and record the ideas that were developed on the map for future use. Louisville is not the first city to get the 3D printing treatment, Chicago was rendered in 3D in 2009 as part of an exhibit by the Chicago Architectural Foundation.

Sound like a lot of fun (maybe even more than Monopoly), and if you want to get going on arranging your own city, maybe check out these sweet buildings from Shapeways’ own pfeiffer stylez.

Via The Atlantic Cities Image Geoff Oliver Bugbee via Flickr

Large Scale Mobile 3D Printer to Print Architecture

DUS, a Dutch architecture firm, unveiled their KamerMaker (“RoomBuilder”).  It is the first mobile 3D printer with the capacity to print inhabitable pavilions.  The technology is based on the Ultimaker printer (essentially RepRap) but can print as large as 2.2 x 2.2 x 3.5 meters.  It is housed in a giant chrome box that looks as if aliens had plopped down & begun building homes for themselves.  Although arguably not quite large enough yet to build a pavilion in a single go, it could certainly fabricate the pieces for onsite assembly.  The idea is to implement a more local & adaptable design approach, reuse available materials, & offer mobile construction of emergency & temporary shelter. 

see also: D_Shape 

3DMTP Cloud-Based Service Converts 3D Architectural Files into 3D Printable Models

3DMTP is a cloud-based software service, focused on making 3D architectural models 3D Printable. 3DMTP automatically transforms 3D designs, from BIM, 3D CAD, SketchUp software and other 3D visualization software into scalable and 3D printable model files.  

3DMTP helps overcome the complex challenges sometimes faced in making 3D scaled models printable for architects, developers and designers. The innovation is based on algorithms which study-the geometric structure of the model, identify and AUTOMATICALLY fix problems that would have prevented it from being successfully printed. Sweet.

3D Printing Architectural Models Easy with Shapeways

Once you
are ready to turn your design into a 3D printable model, upload your
design file and set your parameters: scale, profile, and desired 3D
printer. 3DMTP automatically processes the file without any additional
operator interface. 3DMTP also fixes holes between polygons and facets,
repairs reverse surfaces, changes the thickness of walls to minimum
print tolerance for the selected printer, fixes non-volumetric geometry
(making objects “watertight”), and fixes many other problems of
degenerated geometry that otherwise would prevent the model from
printing successfully

Check out some of their 3D Printable architectural models already in their Shapeways shop