3D Printing and AEC

  1. The Z Corporation recently announced the world’s first monochrome 3D printer.
  2. At $25,900 this is an investment that every design office, including the AEC world should consider.
  3. Regardless of the advances in 3D computer graphics, there is still no substitute for a physical 3D model.

I saw an announcement from Z  Corporation that they were offering the world’s first automated, monochrome 3D printer. Not knowing much about 3D printing I thought that was odd, but I guess for most mechanical parts applications monochrome is just not going to be sufficient. It just seems that you would invent monochrome first and then move on to color, but so much for that theory.

But what really got my attention with the ZPrinter 350 is the price – MSRP $25,900. I am sure most people would prefer, and in fact need color for most reverse engineering applications, but the ability to rapidly build a physical 3D model  from a printer in this price range would seem to be worth the investment. Wouldn’t every engineering design office benefit from having one of these?

Which made me wonder whether it would make sense for AEC firms to own one of these low cost 3D printers. Sure enough, a visit to the Z Corporation website turned up a case study on how Foster + Partners, one of the world’s largest architecture firms uses 3D printing to improve communication with its customers, review agencies and the public. It would seem that these printers would find application in building digital terrain models, 3D cities, structural engineering, bridge design, complex construction details, the list goes on and on.

1501_Fosters Current 2

As far as 3D computer graphics have come in the past 20 years there is still a place for a physical model – it’s just human nature.

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