FAQs about 3D-printed architectural models. Source: WhiteClouds
FAQs about 3D-printed architectural models. Source: WhiteClouds

The idea of 3D-printing scale models is fairly new to many architects, home builders, home owners, and to the industry as a whole. Naturally, there are many questions. Here are the answers to the most common questions we are asked about 3D-printed architectural models:

What file type is required to 3D print a home or commercial model?

We can use just about any BIM file that conveys the information about the home or building. We can also use physical blueprints, artist’s sketches, and photographs to create a 3D-printable model.

How much does it cost to 3D print an architectural model?

Our pricing structure is based on the amount of material it takes to 3D print the model and the time it takes to prepare your design to print. There are many variables to consider (e.g. size of the model, complexity of the home, the information you provide, features like terrain and interior walls, etc.).

The best way to determine a price is to send us a file and let us know what features you would like. Then we will provide a free bid. 

What is the largest model you can 3D print?

Our 3D printed architectural models are printed on a ProJet 660Pro by 3D Systems. The printer's build envelope is 10 x 15 x 8 (L x W x H) inches and this is the largest model we can print in a single piece. We can 3D print larger models in multiple pieces and the size is almost unlimited.

What is the turnaround time for a 3D-printed architectural model?

We usually ask for four to six weeks from the time we take the order to when you will receive the model. However, we understand that sometimes deadlines are tight and we will do our best to accommodate rush orders.

How fragile are the models? Do they ship ok?

Most of the architectural models are made out of sandstone-like material which is brittle and can break if dropped. Please be especially careful with small and thin parts of the model like handrails and eaves.

We package the models very carefully when we ship them. We have only had one model break during shipping (we think the delivery service may have mistaken it for a soccer ball). If your model does break, we will reprint and ship you a new one. 

We also 3D print models in rigid plastic and UV-cured resin which are stronger but don’t print in full-color.

Do you paint the 3D-printed models? How does the color work?

Our 3D printers print in the full CMYK spectrum of colors (approximately 750,000 colors) creating a realistic model. The color is added to each layer as the object prints. However, just because we can print in full color doesn’t mean we have to. Many architects prefer white, monochrome models—we can do that too.

Learn more about the sandstone-like building material here.

We also 3D print architectural models and model accessories, like cars, boats, machinery, people, etc., in rigid plastic and UV-cured resin. This material provides more detail but doesn’t print in full color—only clear and monochrome. The rigid plastic and UV-cured resin models can be painted if desired.

What is the process for ordering?

The process is simple. You can contact us at 1-385-206-8700 or support@whiteclouds.com or visit us online at: /business/architectural-modeling. Send us the information (files) for your home or building. We will review the options and features you want in your model and give you a FREE bid. Once you accept the bid, we’ll get started on the model.  

Can you 3D print the interior of a home or building?

Yes. We can create a model with a removable roof and floors so you can see the layout of the home. This is a great way to give your clients a perspective of how the home will flow. We can even add cabinets, furniture, and other interior details. 3D-printed models are a great way for interior designers to present a design concept to clients.  

What do you do with my file once it is submitted?

We use the information contained in your file(s) to create a 3D printable model. We do file analysis to ensure the model is watertight. We typically have to do some scale modification on walls, railings and other thin features to ensure it will 3D print successfully and won’t break when handled. 

Can you 3D print terrain, swimming pools, arbors, etc.?

Yes. If you can design it, we can print it.

If I want a second model is it cheaper?

Yes. Our pricing is based on the amount of material used and the time it takes to prepare your design to print. The second model is less money because the file is already 3D printable. This means you can affordably print a second copy to showcase in your firm. Or, if your client sees the model and wants to make a change to their home or building, you can make the design change and we will print a revised version of the model for less money.   

Do you have a question that is not addressed in this article? Don't hesitate to contact us at 1-385-206-8700 or support@whiteclouds.com.  

*Keep in mind that each home and commercial building is different. This is one of the reasons 3D printing is a good option to build architectural models. Some of the answers above are general—specifics for your project may vary.