Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How to 'Create more' Efficiencies in Graphic Production Workflows for 3D Visualization Using 3D Printing

This week’s guest blog comes from David Munson,

In the 3D visualization business we look for efficiencies in our graphic production workflows. The recycling of 3D data is a good place to find such time savers. We take the Building Information Model into 3dsMax Design, eliminating the initial step of creating the basic 3D model. In 3dsMax we texture map, light, render, animate, export to GoogleEarth, etc. and most certainly, we 3D print. When one is working on the visual model it’s best to plan for 3D printing as well and work in solids rather than surfaces. Then the fun can start! Visually rich, well crafted 3dsMax models come out 3D printed as visually rich, well crafted physical models. While we are used to thinking of THE model as in one, the ability to reproduce multiple copies at varying scales brings new opportunities. Where there are efficiencies there are opportunities! For most of our large architectural projects we also create a very small scale version which is able to be reproduced very inexpensively with ZPrinter technology. For the Monastery of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist in Harvard Square, Cambridge, we have produced thus far one large model, four medium sized and about 50 very small versions.

For Tsoi/Kobus and Associates we created one model of their UPENN Proton Accelerator project following a team members’ hunch. So we crafted a model, printed one and the client loved it and asked for nine copies with no adjustments.

Taken to the urban scale is our New World Trade Center model which has been reproduced at three different scales. The largest resides in the Fire Museum of New York and measures 17” square (each of three) and the smallest is 4” square.

 Using high resolution texture maps allows one to print large scale as well as small. Here is the Woolworth building separated out and printed a foot tall. There is much detail which just keeps coming out the more you enlarge when you start with high resolution images.

Below are photos of small and large versions of the same base 3d data with only minor geometric differences between them. This efficiency allows for our clients to get multiple small versions for a low enough cost that even if they weren't planning to make them, become interested. Our Palm Beach Day Academy client is using these models for fund raising in order to realize their expansion. We made the large model first and then the small versions.


  1. SO AWESOME. This is amazing, the level of detail! This, I think, is way more intuitive for designers than laser cutting like in traditional architecture, and this is going to be able to make abstract ideas possibles and tangible. We are all going to be able to design light years faster. This is great that the important implication of on demand manufacturing is document and written about the industry. Keep it up. BTW the UPENN machine must have been a really fun project to collaborate on.