i.materialise is an online 3D printing service, community and marketplace for creative people. It is a 3D printing blog that keeps you updated about outstanding 3D designs, the newest 3D printing technologies and the best 3D modeling software tutorials.
Ever wondered what happens to your file after it has been uploaded to i.materialise? In this post, we will walk you through all the steps that your model will go through, from automated and manual checks to file preparation, production and cleaning. We will deep dive into what happens from the moment you click “order” until your 3D print arrives to your doorstep.
For a 3D print order to be completed, it naturally must start with a 3D model. This can be done vis-à-vis a 3D scan, designing it yourself using a 3D design tool, or using a professional designer to do the 3D modeling.
Of course, modeling for a 3D print job can be confusing. This is especially true if you are a beginner. In this case, it might be helpful to read our whitepaper “Beginner’s Guide to 3D Printing,” so that your order won’t be canceled after it is uploaded.
A finished 3D model can be uploaded to i.materialise. Our 3D printing platform offers instant pricing, automated and manual checks, 8 different printing technologies, 21 different materials to choose from and over 100 color and finish combinations, and offers the capability to support many 3D file formats. As such, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to 3D printing and preparing the 3D model. It’s not only about the printing (which usually only takes a couple days at most). Rather, it involves an entire process of file checking, planning, printing, cleaning, finishing, quality checking, packing, and shipping your products.
Over 100 color and finish combinations are possible with i.materialise
After the upload
Once your 3D model has been uploaded and your selections have been made, the model immediately goes into an automated check using our in-house software.
The software verifies if the model can be printed. It makes sure that some of the most common mistakes why a 3D model is not printable, such as wall thickness. If the wall is too thin, for example, this could mean that a 3D printer simply cannot build a wall, or that the wall would be very fragile and break off easily.
Another common mistake is when your model has edges or contours that are not closed or connected properly. These so-called gaps between the surfaces prevent your model from being watertight. This refers to the possibility that your model would “leak” because of these gaps. The gap is closed by welding or stitching the surfaces together in your 3D software program or creating a surface in between.
A common mistake when 3D modeling is making walls too thin, or simply forgetting to add wall thickness altogether
In some cases, our automated software can fix some of these mistakes. In other cases, if one or more of the automated checks fail and it cannot be fixed automatically, then the model is looked over by a member of the Customer Support team. They check and approve whether the model can be sent into job preparation. If there are still some risks associated with the model, they will reach out to the customer to see if they are willing to accept some of the risks (such as wall thickness), before it is sent to job creation.
If the model is not printable or considered acceptable, then the order is canceled (read more on “Why Was My Order Canceled?”). The customer is informed about the cancellation with a full explanation of what went wrong so they can ensure that the next print will be successful and they are also refunded.
Next step: production
Once the 3D model goes through all of the automated and manual checks, then it is cleared for job creation and production. The production facilities contain over 100 printers, including 15 of the world’s largest Stereolithography machines (printing up to 2100 x 680 x 800 mm).
Your parts are first cued and combined in a job file that will be sent to the printer. Most of the time many parts can fit in a single print bed, so there are other prints included in the job file. During this step, we orient, position and slice your model. Orientation and positioning will influence the surface quality and mechanical properties, such as the strength. Due to layered building process, our team has to select best orientation for each part. This last action is where the job is split up in layers, sending that information to the printer, which will be used by the 3D printer to construct the entire print job.
The printer is started, and depending on the size and amount of parts, the print job can take a couple hours or up to 2 days or even longer. This depends on the complexity of the job, material, finish and/or the size of the parts. Some additional buffer time is typically added to give room for production corrections and additional checks or print queues. More on lead times and production times can be found here.
Final steps: Post-processing, quality check and shipment
Once the model is printed, the parts are taken from the build and cleaning is required. The cleaning can differ depending on the technology used. For a powder-based process, like Laser Sintering and Multi Jet Fusion, the removal of residual powder is needed. For Stereolithography, the first step is the removal of residue liquid resin and then the removal of support. To learn more about the different types of cleaning and 3D printing technologies, you can read about it here.
Powdered-based 3D printers like Multi Jet Fusion requires residual powder removal during the cleaning process.
Additional post-processing is done depending on the required finish or color. For example, if you ordered a Polyamide model with a red polished finish, once your model is printed, it will then be put into a tumbler with pebbles that vibrates at a high frequency to smoothen the surface. Then it will be dyed by putting it into a bath with red pigment.
The last step before shipment is a quality check. The printed parts are looked over for quality assurance and basic measurements are double-checked. Then, all of the parts for one order are gathered for shipment together in one package.
All parts go through a quality check before getting shipped out.
Your 3D print is now ready for its final step and last leg of its journey. All of the printed 3D models are shipped via UPS, with delivery times varying by region – check out our shipping time page for more info. Or, if you’re in the neighborhood, you can also pick up your part at Materialise HQ in Leuven, Belgium. Either way, you get to hold in your hands the model that you imagined, created and designed.
Ready to print your model? Go to our upload page to get started.
3D printing is fascinating and intricate at the same time, and understanding every 3D printing concept can be overwhelming when you are just starting out. Learning the different materials and technologies gets even more complicated with the often complex 3D printing terminology.
You might have asked yourself if SLS is the same as SLA, or if PA is similar to PLA.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! We want to make it easier for you to start 3D printing with this 3D printing vocabulary list: it explains the most common acronyms for 3D printing in just one place. Don’t let the 3D printing jargon get in your way to becoming the next 3D expert.
AM – Additive Manufacturing
Additive Manufacturing is frequently used as a synonym of 3D printing. Additive technologies are defined as the process of joining materials to make 3D objects. AM is the opposite to subtractive manufacturing technologies, which remove material to form an object.
ABS – Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene
You don’t have to learn its complicated name by heart to become a 3D printing master. But you do have to know that ABS is a plastic from the thermoplastic polymers family. This material, in the form of a filament, is used on FDM printers that heat it up until it melts to create the desired models.
What is an FDM printer, you ask? Keep reading to know more about this 3D printing technology.
CAD – Computer Aided Design
This term describes all the design software used in the process of creating, modifying, analyzing or optimizing a design. CAD programs are used by engineers and 3D designers to create and modify the models they want to 3D print. You can learn more about CAD software for 3D printing on this article.
DMLS – Direct Metal Laser Sintering
There are different techniques for 3D printing metals. When laser-based 3D printing technologies use powdered metals, we talk about Direct Metal Laser Sintering. The principle here is the same as with SLS: The 3D printing machine distributes a thin layer of metallic powder while a high-powered laser binds the selected parts together. We use DMLS technology to print in aluminum and titanium.
This is a very popular 3D printing technology among starters. FDM machines build the 3D models layer by layer by heating and extruding thermoplastic material filaments such as ABS. This technology was created in 1988 and patented the next year by S.Scott and Lisa Crump, the founders of Stratasys Crump. Until 2009, the term FFF or Fused Filament Fabrication was used to avoid the legally constrained term.
Most home 3D printers use this technology, but you can use FDM industrial 3D printers to create high-quality models and finishes. Read more about FDM technology on our blog.
How FDM works
FFF – Fused Filament Fabrication
This term is a synonym of FDM. It was coined by members of the RepRap Project to be used instead of FDM, a concept that was under legal patent restrictions until 2009.
MJF – Multi Jet Fusion (HP)
This HP technology for 3D printing is similar to Selective Laser Sintering, but instead of lasers it jets a fusing agent to melt together very fine grains of powder, resulting in a strong but flexible material. MJF is available on i.materialise and is the best option for sturdy polyamide models with detailed surfaces or thinner walls.
Piguin by i.materialise. 3D printed in Polyamide (MJF)
PA – Polyamide
Polyamide (SLS) is a fine, white granular powder used on SLS 3D printing technologies. The natural finish for Polyamide feels slightly sandy and granular to the touch but the material allows a wide range of finishes and colors, as well as nearly unlimited freedom of design. That’s why this material, also known as nylon plastic, is the favorite of many 3D artists and designers.
Polyamide 3D printing in our factory. Photo by Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) (c) Arthur Los.
PLA – Polylactic Acid
This 3D printing material, sometimes known as biopolymer, is also used in the form of a filament on FDM 3D printing machines. This thermoplastic is made from renewable raw materials such as plants, e.g. sugarcane, soya, corn or potatoes, and it can have a sweet smell when burned. PLA is a very popular material for home printers because it’s easy to use and cost-efficient, but it’s more brittle than ABS.
SL/SLA – Stereolithography
SL or SLA stands for Stereolithography, a 3D printing process that uses liquid resins. Stereolithography is used on big printers, like our Mammoth machines, which can print models of up to 2.1 meters. This process takes place in large tanks where a layer of liquid polymer is spread over a platform. Some areas are hardened by a UV laser to become the layers which make up the 3D-printed model. One layer of liquid is spread on top of another until the model is complete and the excess liquid flows away. Watch this video to see Stereolithography in action.
Stereolithography | 3D Printing Technologies - YouTube
SLS – Selective Laser Sintering
Selective Laser Sintering is a 3D printing technology based on powder. The printer is heated up until below the melting point and a fine layer of powder is spread. After that, a laser beam heats up the parts that need to be sintered together above the melting point. The powder particles reached by the laser are fused together while the rest remains loose powder.
The main advantage of this technology is that no supporting structure is needed, so it allows very complex designs and even interlocking and moving parts.
Selective Laser Sintering Machine
STL is the name of a very common 3D printing file format. The files generated by CAD programs usually have the extension .STL. It’s supported by most 3D design and printing software, and is probably the most common file format used for 3D printing. Where the word comes from remains confusing: while it’s commonly seen as an abbreviation of STereoLithography, sometimes it is also thought to be an acronym for “Standard Triangle Language” or “Standard Tessellation Language”.
TPU – Thermoplastic Polyurethane
Our rubber-like prints are made with a material called TPU 92A-1. The complete technical name comes from the combination of the acronym for Thermoplastic Polyurethane, followed by Shore A 92, a standard measurement that indicates how soft materials are. The final models are strong but highly flexible.
Extravaganza neck piece by Dario Sacpitta. Printed in rubber-like
We hope that this introduction to 3D printing terminology will help you understand how 3D printing technologies and materials work. Learning about 3D printing is like a long-distance race, so don’t expect to understand all the concepts at once and don’t give up when it gets confusing. You can find a lot of inspiration and information about 3D printing on our blog and website.
London-based jewelry brand Maria Piana strives to create a new form of abstract jewelry, using intricate industrial processes and artisan experimental techniques. 3D modeling has become the backbone of creating their design aesthetic and bringing their unique visions to life, elevating their collections in ways not possible before. One of the co-designers at Maria Piana, Constantino Papaconstantinou, walked us through the brand’s creative and technical processes to design and create 3D printed jewelry.
When Constantino Papaconstantinou’s and jewelry designer Maria Piana’s paths crossed for the first time, it was a charmed chance meeting. As a design team, their pieces evoke a sense of sophistication and luxury, with detailed and unique sculpturing made possible by 3D design.
3D-printed ring by Maria PianaPrior to joining forces, both had been working in jewelry for quite some time. Constantino has been in the industry for more than 20 years, working with international retail brands and then starting his own jewelry design company and lab. Maria Piana began her career as a dentist before pursuing her passion for jewelry and starting her namesake London-based brand. When they met, she had been working on her second collection and together Constantino and Maria expanded the Maria Piana brand to elevate the pieces from the statement line to include more wearable pieces.
The brand’s designs have been featured in Vogue and on other international magazine covers, and worn by celebrities such as Beyoncé and Lady Gaga.
“Ever since I was a kid, I have been drawing and designing, from copying maps to sketching floor plans,” he tells us. “When I realized I could design and manufacture the types of pieces I was thinking of by using 3D software, I was fascinated and started learning Rhino.”
This has allowed Constantino to design and print more complex pieces.
3D-printed Necklace by Maria Piana
“3D design gives you the opportunity to see things before they are constructed or manufactured, make any changes on paper, cut trial and error procedures, and speed up processes while being confident about the final result,” Constantino explains.
Maria Piana’s first collection consisted of waterjet-cut pieces, while the second collection took that next step forward and added a third dimension to the wearable line, to experiment with more complex and playful shapes and designs.
Taking a leap of faith with i.materialise
“I have 3D printers, casting machines, and furnaces in my own lab, but they are oriented towards custom gold jewelry. I did some online research I found i.materialise and their parent company Materialise, and because I trusted the results I saw in their portfolios, I proposed to Maria to take a shot with our first 3D printed pieces,” he says.
They have been using the i.materialise platform ever since.
“The quality and polishing of i.materialise is excellent, and overall I must say that it’s great value for money and it has saved me a lot of time trying to produce these large and complex pieces myself,” he says. He is able to simply upload the design to the i.materialise website, wait for the order to arrive and then add small final touches where needed (such as earring clasps).
Earrings by Maria Piana
As a dual team of collaborative designers with a passion for exploring new ways of designs, working with i.materialise and using 3D printing has been the ideal creative scenario. From a business standpoint, using 3D printing is also more economical, since the brand are looking to drop small collections of complex designs in brass or silver, and in small to medium quantities where economies of scale cannot be applied. To build the design, they use lost-wax casting as the technology which captures all the intricate and precise details of the pieces, making it ideal for 3D printed jewelry.
From a paper concept to a printed reality
Maria and Constantino start designing their collections using a mood board, with a selection of around 20 pieces per collection. Constantino then begins designing the 3D models. This is mostly done using Rhino, occasionally using other software to add some texture where necessary.
“I use a completely stripped-down version of Rhino with no add-ons or libraries because I like using parts designed by myself and skip the ready-made components in libraries,” he says of his work process. “This definitely adds to the identity of the design, makes it more difficult to copy, and in the end, makes you a more skilled 3D designer since you have to figure out custom solutions instead of resorting to cookie-cutter ones.”
Co-designer Maria Piana
Designs are then printed in brass to be showcased in exhibitions (Premiere Classe in Paris Fashion Week, during London Fashion Week, HOMI Milano) and then reprinted in brass or silver depending on orders. The finish the brand opts for brass is usually gold plating on a highly polished surface.
However, designing intricate pieces of jewelry isn’t without its challenges, Constantino explains.
Maria Piana co-designer Constantino Papaconstantinou
“Sometimes we would like to add more information to the design, to make it more complex, to give it more layers, so to speak,” he tells us. “The change in mindset is the most important and realistic approach that they have to use when they are designing the pieces in 3D, whereas on paper, they can still be dreaming.”
“After all, when you design in 3D software, you are not only designing but you are simultaneously modeling,” he explained. “This means you are in a way constructing, so there must be a sweet spot between aesthetics and the ability to produce the actual design, a spot where the idea, purified by the filter of production methods we have in mind, becomes the final product design.”
Direct metal laser sintering is one of the most fascinating 3D printing techniques, as it allows you to print your own designs in metals such as Aluminum or Titanium. Today we will take a more detailed look at this technology and see how you can access it via our online service.
Direct Metal Laser Sintering
Direct Metal Laser Sintering – or DMLS for short – is a game changer when to comes to direct 3D printing of metals. This ultra high end 3D printing process is one of the world’s most advanced manufacturing technologies. But take a look for yourself:
Direct Metal Laser Sintering | 3D Printing Technologies - YouTube
The Base Material: Metal Powder
Unlike with most home printers, DMLS printers do not use filament. In fact, the 3D printed parts are constructed from very fine, granular Aluminum or Titanium powder. It is important to note that the powder used by 3D printers cannot be any kind of powder. Since it will be used for ultra-thin printing layers, the powder must be perfectly shaped in order to even out. Consider rocks and marbles; you could easily put rocks on top of each other to build a pyramid. However, building a pyramid with marbles would be way more difficult, as the perfectly shaped spheres would just even out and your pyramid wouldn’t stand a chance. Similar to the marbles, the Aluminum and Titanium powder needs to have the perfect shapes of spheres since each and every printing layer needs to have exactly the same height (and we’re talking about microns here).
Cheetah Bike Stem by Nils Faber. 3D printed in Aluminum.
Cufflinks with Ginko Leaf by Steve Koll. 3D printed in Titanium.
The Printing Process of DMLS Explained
To create your 3D print, a laser in the printer melts the powder together. So here’s how it works: A super-thin layer of Aluminum or Titanium powder is spread out by a roller. The print chamber of the 3D printer is then heated up. However, the powder does not melt yet since it has not reached its melting point. And now the magic happens: a laser touches those areas of the layer that are part of your design, raising the temperature of those areas just above the melting point, and voilà, your part is sintered (well, one layer of your part). The 3D printer will continue to spread out one layer of powder after another, and the laser will systematically touch the correct spots of each layer and sinter the object together.
Section view of the DMLS 3D printing process.
After the Printing: Cooldown & Finishing
Once the printing job is done, it is not possible to immediately grab the 3D prints – the printer and the metal parts still need to cool down. Once this period is over, your model is lifted from the powder bed. If your model needs support structures to keep the model structurally sound or to support it while the 3D printer builds it, they will be removed manually.
A metal model is taken out of a 3D printer at Materialise’s Metal 3D Printing factory.
How to Get a High-Quality DMLS Print in Titanium and Aluminum
To get the best prints in Titanium and Aluminum, check out our design guidelines. There you can see more of the technical specifications, such as wall thickness, accuracy, and typical use to make sure your print will come out exactly as you imagine.
Owning and operating a 3D printer can be rewarding to go from design to final finished product all on your own. However, certain aspects like the time spent troubleshooting and optimizing settings to produce quality prints can get tedious. Or after significant investment in time and equipment you may find that you’ve just reached the limits of your 3D printers’ capability, and you would like more options.
Read on to discover the top five reasons to turn to a service bureau like i.materialise to print your designs.
1. Wide range of technologies, materials, and colors
The majority of consumer/prosumer 3D printers use plastic, such as PLA or ABS filament, or a type of light-sensitive resin. Plastic or small-scale resin parts work well for initial prototyping or model making. But there are many more 3D printing materials and technologies to discover.
Laser-sintered aluminum, for example, gives you the ability to make organic structural forms in a lightweight metal that is perfect for demanding applications and needs. If you need to save weight or make a part that is hypoallergenic, titanium prints in multiple finishes is ideal.
i.materialise offers a wide range of 3D printing materials and technologies
With desktop 3D printers, you need to have a limited size to work with whereas with a service bureau like i.materialise you can get really large prints in one piece. You can get something that’s teeny-tiny (like a small and intricately detailed game piece made in high-detail stainless steel) or extra-large (like a furniture part prototyped in mammoth resin).
This gives you more options that may be a closer match to your initial idea. In fact, with i.materialise online 3D printing platform you can get access to professionally operated industrial printers that use over 8 different 3D printing technologies and more than 20 different materials with industry-leading build volumes.
2. Easy to get started
It takes skill to consistently produce good 3D prints. Besides hassle-free prints, there are other advantages with outsourcing. You will no longer have to troubleshoot an idiosyncratic printer, worry about technical issues like layer adhesion, warping, or infill settings, or need to concern yourself with disposing of uncured resin, bits of filament, or failed prints.
Your 3D design will most likely need some optimization, but each material we offer has straightforward and clear design guidelines. Moving from a PLA or ABS print to our Polyamide (SLS), which is competitive in price, offers extensive freedom of design. Plus it is relatively simple to transition your designs to this material especially because no support structures are needed and has a wide range of tolerances.
Fellow Products used the i.materialise online platform to print prototypes for their Stagg EKG kettle.
3. Save time and money – even in post-processing
Why spend money in equipment, workspace, or machine maintenance if you don’t have to? On top of that, you’ll need to spend time learning how to use a specific 3D printer, or even a new design on a printer you already know well.
Even in the post-processing stage you can use lots of valuable time and have extra costs. With over 100 possible color and finishing combinations, you can save time in color dyeing, spray painting, polishing, flocking for a velvet finish, and waterproofing. Each material we offer from silver to Multicolor+ has various finishes and options from which to choose so you can move from print to finished product quickly and easily.
Penguin by Bert De Niel printed in Polyamide (SLS) with a pink velvet finish.
4. Do more with less hassle
An in-house 3D printer can be a great option for producing a rough draft prototype. Especially when you are first starting out or trying a different technique for the first time, the learning curve to make a design printable can be difficult, with lots of trial and error.
More challenging designs can be produced with less hassle using i.materialise than attempting to it yourself, even with a high-end prosumer 3D printer.
These 3 architectural models of the Šibenik Cathedral of St. James (Croatia) was 3D printed in transparent resin.
The production times i.materialise achieves rival print times for large in-house prints – under 48 hours for certain materials. Additionally i.materialise’s variety of materials, finishing options, quality, and speed of production is unmatched compared to in-house 3D printing.
Need multiple copies? A service bureau can produce multiple prints simultaneously. And with i.materialise you get an automatic discount when you order two or more copies at one time.
What started as an experiment to 3D print show-stopping accessories for theme party soon developed into a full-blown brand. Grégoire de Bellefroid and Gaétan Bücken had made cuff links in the shape of airplanes to impress their friends, and following “oohhs” and “aahhs” at the aviation-themed party, they soon founded Gregson & Buck.
Today their Brussels-based jewelry brand is using 3D printing to help customers create one of a kind cufflinks that make special occasions even more special.
Grégoire de Bellefroid and Gaétan Bücken, founders of Gregson&Buck
From Idea to Take Off
Grégoire and Gaétan had just purchased a brand new 3D printer and “were discussing the power of this technology with some friends when the discussion switched over to an upcoming theme party based on The Aviator movie,” according to the founders.
“The hosts were really good friends of ours so we wanted to go above and beyond with our costumes. We got challenged to make something using 3D printing and decided to design and print unique airplane cufflinks.”
“We then arrived at the party as pilots. Everyone had a good laugh, and was pretty impressed, when they saw our cufflinks!”
3D-printed cufflinks in the shape of airplanes
They soon started selling their products on Etsy. “That was an important step for us to meet our first customers and gather invaluable feedback. Very soon we wanted to have our own personal space to offer our products.”
This desire lead to the creation of their website, an online boutique specializing in men’s haberdashery. “Men don’t have many fashion accessories,” note Grégoire and Gaétan. “In addition to ties and watches, cufflinks are great accessories to personalize your clothes and to make them match to who you are and what you want to express.”
A Design For Every Taste
Custom cufflinks can be printed based on a logo or a drawing provided by the customer. “With this co-creation technique, the customer comes up with ideas and sketches and we guide them to make unique pieces of jewelry that they love and that really represent them.” Cufflinks that the wearer actually had a hand in designing are truly special.
3D-printed cufflinks in the shape of a fleur de lis
The flexibility in 3D design and i.materialise as a production partner unlocks the potential for high-end, truly custom pieces that can’t be made using traditional methods. The powerful combination of 3D printing and Grégoire’s desire to “inspire men to express their personalities through fashion accessories” sets Gregson & Buck’s cufflinks apart from those sold in stores.
“Cufflinks aren’t an everyday fashion accessory we think about these days, but when it comes to formal attire, it’s still something that comes to mind. In our entourage, a few of our friends even wear cufflinks at work on a daily basis.”
“While classic button shirts are linked to our everyday lives, cufflinks are destined to singular events, convey timeless elegance and embody tradition and heritage.”
Tying the Knot with Custom Cufflinks
“We believe high-end cufflinks are real pieces of jewelry. Therefore, we see them as a great gift for men when you want to give something different than a watch.”
Grooms often want to give their groomsmen gifts that can actually be worn and enjoyed on the wedding day as well as on other occasions. According to Grégoire and Gaétan, groomsman gifts should be special, unique and masculine – evoking individual style, hobbies or even vices. A pair of custom cufflinks can certainly hit all those marks and last a lifetime.
3D-printed customized cufflinks are a great gift for grooms and groomsmen
Brides are also always looking for meaningful gifts for their future husbands. What could be more special than something from the heart that they helped make?
“Most of our cufflinks are made for weddings and are a gift from the bride to her husband to be.” Custom monogram cufflinks are very popular. These cufflinks, featuring up to three different letters, can even be produced by i.materialise in many different materials – silver, brass, and steel to name a few – offering a further “opportunity to emphasize one’s style and personality.”
The 3D-printed cufflinks by Gregson¬Buck are a unique gift
“The best feeling we get is when a customer sends us an email saying they love the cufflinks they received and that their groom will look fantastic on the wedding day. In the same direction, we love it when customers send us pictures of wedding pictures showcasing the cufflinks.”
Future Plans for Custom Cufflinks
Gregson & Buck have plans to make it possible for their customers to design cufflinks completely on their own.
3D-printed customized cufflinks in silver
“We’ll soon launch an online 3D customizer app where visitors will be able to design the cufflinks by themselves. This will bring a huge added-value to our customer and will also streamline the ordering process through i.materialise.”
With 3D printing and their cufflink design application, the only limit customers will have is their imagination. And of course, Grégoire and Gaétan will still be around to lend their expertise should a customer get stuck.
The world is on course to be a more dapper place thanks to Gregson & Buck.
When 3D printing architectural models, you combine the precision of virtual 3D modeling with the tangibility of a physical object. Architects used to create scale models mostly out of wood or foam, but more and more of them are embracing the benefits of 3D printing their newest designs. Read on to learn why architects are joining the 3D printing revolution!
1. Your clients can visualize your architectural designs better
A 3D printed object makes your design tangible. So a detailed scale model of the final project can be a valuable way of communicating your design idea to colleagues or – more importantly – your clients. A 3D-printed architectural model takes out the guesswork and theoretical nature of technical drawings and sketches. Perfect for pitching an idea that stands out from the rest.
2. Reduce the time spent on creating architectural scale models
With a 3D printer you can make your design come to life while saving yourself the hours of work that creep into creating a scale model. Once you place an order for a 3D print, you can continue working on other important tasks – the 3D printer will do the job autonomously. 3D printing is especially useful if your design is made of complicated design elements such as double-curved surfaces or complex facades. If you use an online 3D printing service like i.materialise you won’t even have to worry about cleaning and post-processing your 3D print.
Another amazing time saver: after applying essential 3D printing design rules, you can even print existing 3D models created in programs like SketchUp. There is no need to create your 3D printable file from scratch.
Time is money. So saving hours of work ultimately means saving expenses.
3D printed house by Burobill
3. Models are printed in great quality and come in many materials
Gone are the days where 3D prints looked pixelated and rough. Professional 3D printers now print architectural models with a great level of detail and pretty smooth surfaces. Additionally, you can choose from a wide range of materials. Polyamide (SLS) tends to be the most popular material amongst architects. Scale modelers often go with Gray Resin. If you need colorful elements and do not want to paint your Polyamide or Prime Gray model by hand, Multicolor is your best bet. And you can even add transparent 3D-printed elements in transparent Resin or parts in 3D printing metal to your model.
Model of the Belgian coastline during World War based on aerial photographs from the time. It was Comissioned by the Atlantikwall Museum in Raversijde for an exhibition about munition in WWI
3D printed architecture by C3A
4. Easily re-edit, re-use and re-print your architectural 3D models
3D printing allows you to be more flexible with your models. If the client requests a change, you can simply edit the file, share it with colleagues and re-print the object. If you need a second scale model you can simply print it again. That’s the beauty of 3D modeling and 3D printing – you are always in full control.
Three different versions of the Šibenik Cathedral in transparent resin
3D print by Floorplanner
3D printed architectural scale model for the Linde AG
One of the main goals of 3D printing is simply to make our lives easier: with a good 3D design and the endless possibilities of the technology, it’s easy to find a solution for your needs. For photographers, it might be the need to take better pictures. By adding just a few small details, you can make taking photos and recording a lot easier.
We have put together a compilation of 3D-printed camera accessories that can bring photography to the next level.
Get your camera ready for an upgrade with this inspiring 3D-printed camera gear!
1. 3D-printed lens cap holder in polyamide (MJF) by Spruce
Sometimes, even the smallest actions can ruin it all. Do you know that annoying feeling when you take the lens cap off your camera and can’t find a place to keep it? Or, even worse, when you lose the lens cap altogether? To avoid these sticky situations, Dutch designer Willem Sparreboom designed this lens cap holder in 3D-printed polyamide (MJF).
Lens Cap Holder (58mm) by Spruce. 3D printed in Polyamide (MJF). Dyed Finish
This 3D printing material is perfect for this camera project because it’s light yet sturdy, and the black color matches the camera perfectly. It’s a simple but smart 3D printing project that allows you to improve your photography experience. You can buy the 3D-printed lens cap holder here.
3D-printed lens cap holder in action
2. 3D-printed GoPro scuba mount in alumide
GoPro is the camera of choice for the most adventurous photographers. Those looking for alternative ways to use their cameras can experiment by 3D printing mounts for their GoPro – and tailor it to their wishes.
The scuba diver Felipe de la Torre 3D-printed this mount to attach his camera to the side of his diving mask. This 3D-printed camera mount was made in alumide to make it sturdy and lightweight at the same time. It’s certainly an original way to bring 3D printing to the bottom of the sea! You can even match the color of your diving mask to the mount with our wide range of colors for alumide.
3D printed GoPro scuba mount in alumide
3. 3D design of a telescope adaptor for smartphones in polyamide (SLS)
This smartphone adaptor is a birdwatcher’s dream! Conceived by the customer optics company Opticron, the adaptor was designed on Tinkercad and is the perfect gadget for digiscoping. This photo technique allows photographers to capture distant images with their digital camera or smartphone by coupling it with an optical telescope.
3D-printed telescope adapter for iPhone5
The gadget is the perfect compact, easy to use and low-cost adaptor to take impressive pictures of nature and birds with a smartphone. The adaptor can also be customized to be used with different smartphones, which allows for a lot of flexibility. The gadget is 3D printed in polyamide (SLS): a lightweight, affordable and sturdy option.
The smartphone adapter on a telescope
4. Camsports mount for ski goggles in polyamide (SLS)
Another popular camera for recording outdoorsy activities is the EVO Camsports. The Dutch designer Monique de Wilt created this mount for ski goggles, enabling the user to record ski tours, snowboard stunts or dirtbike trips without the need to attach a camera to your head. With this polyamide (SLS) holder, you can mount the tiny EVO Camsports camera unobtrusively on the elastic band of your ski goggles.
3D-printed mount for ski goggles in action
“You can easily and securely attach your camera. So easily that you can even put your camera in the holder without taking your helmet or gloves off. You push the camera in the holder, twist it until you can push it all the way back and twist it until the knob points up. Voila, it is secured, it cannot move back or forth. The holder fits on elastic bands with a width of 4cm,” explains the designer about her gadget. You can find Monique’s 3D-printed camera mount in her online shop.
5. Moonrig for DSLR camera in polyamide (SLS)
Another creative and useful 3D printing idea to make the most of your camera is this customized rig for a DSLR camera. DSLR cameras are more affordable than high-end cameras and they offer very high-quality images, but it can be difficult to use them for shooting. So the filmmaker Daniel Samier decided to unite his work as a cinematographer and his interest in 3D printing with this 3D-printed camera rig.
Daniel Samier using his 3D-printed Moonrig
Moonrig is a collaboration between Samier and the industrial designers Jan Heinzelmann and Sami Ayadi. To get the perfect design, they talked to other cameramen to know more about their preferences and expectations for a camera rig.
With decades of experience in puzzle making, Oskar van Deventer has been designing some of the most challenging and intricate 3D puzzles. He’ll use anything from computer-aided design programs to nail polish to make his vision come to life. He walked us through his design process and gave insights into some of his upcoming projects.
Oskar van Deventer has been designing and creating puzzles for more than 40 years. He opted for wood when he first started out in 1978, which is a good choice of material to work with when creating cubic puzzles. He found it more difficult to do different shapes, however, and moved on to a plastic material that made it easier to design other categories of puzzles — but it didn’t quite cut the mustard either.
When 3D printing came along, it completely changed puzzle making for Oskar: all of a sudden, the limitations he’d encountered were gone. For him, the technology has enabled so much more in terms of puzzle creation and design options.
Designing puzzles requires serious geometry, especially when designing a puzzle with numerous faces. Using a computer-aided design program helps puzzle creators such as Oskar calculate all of the angles correctly.
“I draw a pentagon and some triangles, and the CAD program does everything else for me,” Oskar tells us. “It’s the CAD program that makes it fairly easy to first prototype on the computer and once the design is good enough, I print it.”
When he’s drawing a twisty puzzle model in Rhinoceros 3D, Oskar starts with the geometry and works on a sphere: “Using one larger sphere, I put a lot of smaller circles on the sphere so that when you move it, it’s a rotation of one of the circles,” he explains.
Working from those curves, he then hones in on designing the smaller pieces. It begins with a sharp outline of the corner piece, followed by closing everything by rounding out the edges.
Then it is meshed for export (a CAD command for polyhedral objects), and ready to be sent to i.materialise.
“When you’re sending the design to i.materialise, it has to be in a neat cage,” he said. “So, the next step in the design process is to develop a cage; I create some blocks for that purpose and I label the cage “twisty ring” for the puzzle. The cage includes all of the parts for the puzzle.”
Once it is uploaded to the i.materialise platform, it takes about 1.5 week to 2 weeks for the prototype to be ready. “Developing a prototype like this is extremely fast compared to what existed in the past,” Oskar says.
Little post-production is required for a twisty ring puzzle. Oskar’s 3D material of choice is polyamide: it is both flexible and affordable. When assembling the puzzle, the polyamide material is not completely smooth, as in, the parts are stuck together and need to be twisted to get them moving. He then cuts out the sticker designs to add color to the different faces of the puzzle.
“I use silicone lubricant – the same spray you use for a bicycle – I soak the pieces with the spray and break them in to make sure the puzzle turns smoothly,” Oskar explains. Because the combination of the silicone spray and the nylon material makes it hard for the stickers to stick, Oskar has found a clever workaround: he uses a nail polish primer and a hot iron to make his colored stickers adhere better.
You would think that after 40 years of puzzle making, the flux of ideas would start to dwindle, but that is not the case for Oskar.
“The problem for me is not a matter of having too few ideas; it’s a matter of which project is exciting enough and having sufficient time to work on it,” he tells us. “There’s a project that I’m currently doing that is a twisty puzzle with 12 axes in a semi-random pattern. That one is next on my list; we have been working on it since last year.”
“I recently discovered that i.materialise does great dye work,” he adds. One of his small-scale productions is a puzzle ring (called the Rainbow Ring), for which i.materialise did all the 3-D printing and the dye work.
“It saved me a lot of effort, and the dye work is very consistent,” Oskar says. He plans to give the rings away as gifts at an upcoming International Puzzle Party. The event is invite-only, and location and date are secret, so if you are one of the lucky few to be in-the-know and score one of Oskar’s puzzles, we are excited to hear about it and see what the puzzle looks like. Tag us on social media with #imaterialise to share the experience!
You can find out more about Oskar’s work on his website as well as our previous interview with him in which we discussed his amazing design for a supersized Rubik’s cube. Oskar’s designs can be purchased via his i.mat shop.
Polyamide (SLS) is the material that offers the most freedom of design for 3D printing. It’s also the material that can be finished in the most colors. But sometimes, this is not enough to create the 3D prints of your dreams. That’s the case of Brian Wise, a 3D printing beginner who successfully finished his first 3D-printed project, from sketch to painted 3D model.
Brian Wise recently graduated from college in Philadelphia with a degree in architecture and has been working as an architectural designer for a year and a half. He has enjoyed drawing and modeling since childhood. That’s why it’s no surprise that his design for a boat started with a sketch.
In this interview he explained to us what process he followed to finish his first 3D print and how he painted the printed model to match it with the ideal design he had in mind.
We see that you mainly work with illustrations. Why did you decide to 3D print a model of the boat?
When I was in school, our final design studio had access to a 3D printer, but due to the direction my project went, I was unable to really do anything with it, which felt like a huge missed opportunity. Now that I’m out of school, I’ve found that I have much more free time with the absence of classes, but have lost the creative outlet that our design studio provided.
I tried my hand at a few miscellaneous crafts before starting to get really interested in the idea of 3D printing. Of course, the possibilities of 3D printing are endless, so the process of bringing a 2D drawing to life gave me some focus for this experiment.
Is this your first experience with 3D printing?
This is indeed my very first print. I looked heavily into acquiring my own 3D printer but was hesitant to purchase plastic-based printers due to wanting to really engage in fine detail and their tendency to visibly layer; and I was unable to afford alternative resin-based printers. Luckily the team at i.materialise was also particularly accommodating.
What was the inspiration behind the design of the boat?
The process was rather long, though fairly straightforward. It began as an idle sketch while I was in the studio one day, inspired by the exceedingly talented Ian McQue and his fantastical flying boat and industrial paintings. The drawing sat in my sketchbook for over a year until post-graduation, when I became interested in 3D printing. I selected it after scrolling through my old Instagram posts to find an interesting object that I could reasonably model. Over the course of the next week, I 3D modeled it before sending it out to print.
Which program did you use for the 3D design?
The design was modeled in Rhino 5.0, which I had used heavily and been instructed in as a student for Architectural Visualization, and subsequently purchased only to have it sit around unused on my computer after graduating.
Which material did you use and why?
I ended up printing the model in polished polyamide (SLS). I certainly didn’t have an excess of money to throw around for a hobby venture like this and was initially discouraged to the point of shelving the project after seeing some of the prices at other websites. Luckily, Polyamide was affordable, allowed for a good level of fine detail, and true to its description on the site was forgiving for a beginner in 3D printing like myself who doesn’t really have a feel for the intricacies of modeling for print. The option of the polished surface was a nice bonus to help reflect the smooth hull of the boat.
How did you paint the 3D-printed model?
I first coated the model with black spray paint and then used hobby model paints to finish it. Since I had the model printed as one solid block, it was difficult to get into nooks and crannies or to highlight details (something to keep in mind for the next 3D print). By using dry-brushing over the black undercoat, the corrugations, seams, and other tiny details were able to be preserved.
After the solid blocks of color were applied, the fine details were added such as rust and striping. Lettering and graffiti were applied with a white gel-pen. Aside from the gel-pen, all the painting materials were from Game Workshop’s Citadel Paints, which I had used before on miniatures when I was younger.
Some of the aspects too small for 3D printing, such as the telephone pole mast and rigging, were sourced from Model Train hobby companies and added after painting.
Do you have any other 3D-printed projects for the future?
Ever since I started getting into the idea of 3D-printing, I’ve had more ideas than I can list, from scale models like the boat, to jewelry. The joy and possibility of bringing a rough idea from 2D to being able to hold it in your hand is amazing. I would love to begin looking into i.materialise’s ability to print interlocking parts to start bringing some movement and life to these creations. I certainly have plenty of sketches to choose from!
We hope that this interview inspires you to 3D print your ideas. As you can see, even a doodle can become a stunning 3D-printed piece with the right tools and 3D printing technology. If you are 3D printing on a budget like Brian, you can upload your models to our 3D printing platform once they are ready and get an instant price quote for your prints in different materials.