Nov 12, 2015 | By Alec

If you’ve ever been involved in construction or architecture projects in any shape or form, you’ll have seen the models. Usually made out of cardboard and a few plastic connectors, they are intended to give customers and the architects themselves a better look at what’s coming. As 3D printing fans, our reaction usually is ‘if you can 3D print it, do it’, but for most of these models 3D printing would be too expensive and too time consuming. That, of course, depends on scale and equipment. Sweco, one of Europe’s’leading architecture firms specializing in huge projects, have recently adopted Ultimaker 3D printing technology for a particularly large, 280 hectare building project in Columbo, Sri Lanka.

The project itself is being led by Swedish architect Henrik Bejmar, and is an ambitious one. Columbo is a huge metropolis in Sri Lanka, home to 5,6 million people and a major commercial hub. Always looking to expand, Sweco was tapped to build an ambitious extension of 280 hectares – enough room for 90,000 apartment units and 200,000 office spaces.

Now building an architectural model for a few homes is usually easily done by an intern and a lazy afternoon, but you can imagine that Bejmar was facing a challenge to build a model that represented 280 hectares of space. This also meant making far smaller, but detailed models to ensure that the complete city expansion could be brought into view. In order to visualize this gigantic project, Bejmar and his Sweco team therefore turned to 3D printing technology. ‘We had an interest in 3D printing, and that’s when we got in touch with [3D printing service provider] 3D Verkstan. They introduced us to the Ultimaker 3D printer, and we fell in love,’ Bejmar says on the Ultimaker website. And that is, in a nutshell, how Bejmar and his team visualized this gigantic Sri Lankan building project. But as you can imagine, 3D printing thousands of models takes quite a bit of time, even for Ultimaker.

Fortunately, the Olsson Block was invented just in time. As you might remember from a piece we did last week, this is an ingenious add on for Ultimaker 3D printers that makes nozzle swapping easier than ever before. ‘Created by community member Anders Olsson, the amazing kit consists of a heater block, installation tools and four nozzle sizes: 0.25, 0.4, 0.6 and 0.8mm. It’s already making a huge difference to the working lives of professionals,’ Ultimaker says of the block. First shared on the Ultimaker forum, the company quickly adopted the Olsson Block as a Community Invention and is currently giving it away for free with new Ultimaker 2 (Extended) purchases (throughout November).

With this new add-on, Ultimaker says, 3D printing this huge city model was far easier and much more quickly realized – especially nozzle switching played a big role in printing differently sized and detailed objects. ‘By using the 0.8mm nozzle, prints came out twice as fast, allowing them to print large-scale models in less time. But conversely, they could also print up to four times as detailed with the 0.25mm nozzle, for the smaller structures,’ Ultimaker says. It also, of course, saved a lot of time and money.

But most importantly, Bejmar and his architectural team were very pleased with the results and are planning to use the technique more often. ‘As an architect it’s easier when you can visualize designs in front of you with a 3D print. For me, I can see it in my head, but it’s also very easy to just touch the model and figure out what it looks like from all angles,’ Bejmar said.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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my name wrote at 11/12/2015 2:34:45 PM:

a slightly bigger project:

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