But reading an article recently in Cadalyst magazine about Andrew Chary the principal architect at Andrew Chary Architects in upstate New York it becomes clear that many clients don’t fully understand what they are seeing in an on-screen walkthrough.
Chary says “The software doesn’t convey perspective, such as the relative size and location of rooms. The walkthroughs don’t excite clients, models do”, he continues “Holding a model in your hand, there’s a light bulb that goes off. It’s almost like a fourth dimension - you see things better when you hold it in your hands, turn it around and upside down. It’s a whole new perspective. People are extremely surprised to see the models” Chary said. “They light up like it’s a toy”
“Now the client is all of a sudden in control." Chary says seeing the 3D-printed architectural model “results in intelligent questions and an understanding of the design that is gratifying." Builders also respond to seeing the connections in a model, Chary said. “It excites them and gives them confidence.”
So clearly there are major benefits to presenting 3D architectural models to clients and helping the design and build process, especially in the current climate where the smallest detail can give you the edge over your competitor. Whereas this is becoming more and more common in the USA, in the UK there are only a few forward thinking companies that have started to use 3D printing as a selling point. One of these companies is property consultants Urban Aspects who have just discovered the 3D printing process and are looking forward to using it on their clients’ jobs for the first time.
Managing Director Russell Ranford says "We are always looking for a different angle that will assist our clients with land and property disposals, so far the clients have been very impressed with the example models provided. In the current marketplace you need an edge just to survive and move forward in business. For bespoke properties 3D printing will enable us to provide scale models for clients to really appreciate what their properties will look like. This will undoubtedly prove to be a much more effective way of communicating proposals than 2D drawings. Property developers are only just starting to use 3D architectural visualisations as a selling point which means that with 3D printing our clients will be ahead of the curve".
Of course there is a cost issue to address as well. 3D printing is getting cheaper but it isn't currently in reach of your average Joe on the street, but as Russell points out "for some of our clients spending £1,000 to £1,500 on 3D architectural visualisation and a 3D printed model will be minimal when you consider the cost of building a house and the business it can potentially win.".
Matt Latham, a 3D artist for Quay Design Creative Solutions is also keen to use the 3D printing process after a recent demonstration of its capabilities here at 3D Creation Lab. Matt uses 3D modelling software to produce the afore mentioned 3D architectural visualisations and walkthroughs for property developers. He immediately saw the potential for the models to impress clients with and also sees it as a unique selling point, Matt says "As soon as I had the demonstration at 3D Creation Lab I was amazed that this technology even exists, I had never seen it before, except maybe on Star trek! I can see how these models could give a unique opportunity to seal deals in the property & architectural markets".
However, the success of a good architectural model relies on perfect Computer aided design (CAD) data being supplied to the printer, which means a pristine 3D model has to be assembled first. Architecture models are notoriously difficult to produce precisely for this reason. The 3D printer can only handle details as small as approx. 1mm so when the model is scaled down small details become a real issue, for instance a door handle may become too small to model. This makes the preparation of the model the most tedious and difficult task of the whole process, but it is worth it the end as you can see from some of the examples on this page.