Benefits of 3D printing for architects


The architectural industry is highly competitive industry. For every project architects are facing relentless competition. Clients have vast variety of choices, that drive architectural firms to seek performance and innovation. Thus providing an incentive that would make them stand out and be chosen, is the key to wining a project. As a result using high tech to describe their practice, many start to turn for help towards Additive Manufacturing (AM). The 3D printing benefits for architects and the competitive advantage that it offers within the architectural processes, are gaining more and more popularity.

Today architects use 3D printing mainly as a tool for conceptual models and show models to motivate prospective clients and investors. It is a great complimentary tool to rendering images and computer models. Communicating the idea – giving a depth, dimension and texture to a project – it’s a good way to stand out among the other firms.

The technology improves the efficiency of the workflow. Key 3D printing benefits for architects and clients:


The process of making a model by hand is a long and tedious process of the past. Whether is a conceptual to test the design (1-2 weeks) or the final version (2 -3 months), building a model manually using cardboard, wood or foam, creates a long timeline. This in turn leads to fairly big investment for a single model.

In contrast, 3D printing cuts the timeline significantly allowing for the designers to have in just a few hours an architectural model with a high level of precision, while decreasing the costs up to 75%. Furthermore a 3D printer can operate non-stop overnight for the larger and more complex models, which take longer to print.


The technology adds a great value by increasing the productivity. One of the 3D printing benefits for architects is to test quickly many concepts and iterations in the early stages of the project. Thus to quickly recognize different potential issues, which would be a lot harder to identify on computer simulations. Moreover designers can print low-cost architectural models overnight at different stages of the project. Used as a study models, with various designs and scales, to asses space, volumes, and general structure.

In a short term and at a no great cost – one can print new, changed, redesign and improved design  based on the previous models and corrections. Making a lot of iterations of the model helps determine how the design influences its surroundings. Looking on a bigger scale one can examine how the massing of the model fits in the massing of the city. Going a scale bigger – how it influences the massing of the neighborhood. Zooming more and more – the plasticity or the massing of the building itself.

IMMEDIATE UNDERTSTANDING Interior Scale Model 3D printed

With physical 3D printed model, the communication between the architect and the clients is clear. Therefore the understanding of the concept – immediate. For instance, when you have a meeting with your clients, put a scale model in one corner of the room and load a photo realistic renderings in the other. You know where the most of their attention will go. Right?


3D printing allows for shapes and forms of high complexity to be created for no extra cost. Shapes that would be close to impossible or extremely hard to recreate with any other tool.

Check out our insightful report on how 3D Printing is being used in the architectural industry today:


Moreover, 3D printing allows for multiple realistic and detail copies at any stage of the project to be printed. Use a as show models – to better communicate and motivate clients and investors. Going into a meeting with an exact model of the building that is going to be build, is a great visualization tool. And an efficient way to make a lasting impression. The technology allows for external as well as internal fine detail visualization. Also, it can produce strong, accurate presentation model with texture and railings.

Furthermore, architects can combined 3d printing with tradition model making for the final models and for a greater impact. Save time and money while adding value with the addition of fine touches for more realistic view. (For example: rocks, grass, plants, snow, carpets, bedding, etc)

REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE3D printing waste and recycle

Basic or complex, one or many – 3D printing saves time, costs and eliminates to great extent the waste using up to 90% of the raw material all while providing high quality fine featured models.

There are available 3D printing filaments that:

  • are produced commercially from recycled bottles of polyethylene terephthalate (PET);
  • are plant-based and are biodegradable;
  • and third that allow for the wasted material to be reused.

The Future of the Architectural Industry

3d printed scale model with external textures and interior walls and details. 3D printing benefits for architects

3D Printed Conceptional Scale Model on a Desktop 3D Printer. The model includes exterior and interior information about the project.

All things considered, 3D printing is going through the same process of development as computer drawing. There are people who truly believe that this is the future and others who don’t really see the use for it. The technology combines the precision of computer simulation and the tangibility of a scale model. Computer drawing evolved from hand drawing to photorealistic renderings. Similarly just as nowadays you can not go to a client with a hand drawing, there will be a point in time where clients will no longer accept any model that does not have the detail level and visualization qualities that 3D printing provides. The core 3D printing benefits for the architects are that it saves time and money while increasing the value to the clients.
Consequently, the driver for that progression will not be the architect, but the client and what he wants. And thanks to the flexibility of 3D printing, what the client wants is what the client gets!


5 replies
  1. Alexander
    Alexander says:

    That’s a great article. I’m currently researching how to implement 3D printing into my design workflow. Thank you for the read!

  2. Tyler Meredith
    Tyler Meredith says:

    I never thought of 3d printing as something that would be beneficial for an architect. This is because I didn’t realize that the technology has advanced so much as to be able to build a scale model of a home. This is something to remember because knowing how far 3d printing has come could open up a lot of opportunities for people that would be otherwise very expensive.

  3. Todd Stauffer
    Todd Stauffer says:

    I like how you said that architectural design is being used in models to help motivate clients and other people like that. Having an ability to show what you want to do before you do it would be helpful. That way the client can get an idea of what you have in mind and how it will look in the end.

    • Nencho Genov
      Nencho Genov says:

      Thank you for the comment, Todd.
      Yes, that’s right. Scale models have been around since the beginning of architecture and yet on-screen visualizations like renderings and animations can’t do all the job explaining a project in depth. 3DP technologies are ushering the comeback of scale models period!


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *