Aug 18, 2017 | By David

Architecture and landscaping are fields where 3D printing has the potential to make a major impact, as they are flexible enough to adapt to new technologies and seek to bring together art, design, and fashion trends as well as practical and environmental considerations.

While fully 3D printed buildings are yet to be introduced on a significant scale, the technology is nevertheless incredibly useful for architects and designers wanting to make small-scale prototypes that can help them better visualize their plans before any construction work gets underway. Kurt Kraisinger, owner of Lorax Design Group, is a Kansas-based designer using 3D printing for this very purpose.

Lorax Design Group is a landscape design firm that creates memorable spaces and buildings, with a reputation in the industry for its particularly high level of attention to detail. Kraisinger and his team have worked on all kinds of projects from retail centers to private residences to corporate campuses.

The company’s use of 3D printing technology started around three years ago, and its adoption was inspired by quite an unexpected source: the comedy film National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. There is a scene in the movie where Clark Griswold is playing with a miniature model of the pool he intends to spend his Christmas bonus on, and this is very similar to how Kraisinger and his team now use 3D printing to educate clients on the layout and development of their own swimming pool projects.

Lorax spent several months learning how to model a swimming pool using 3D printing software, after failing to find a suitable company to outsource the work to. The team now has a standard process that it uses for nearly all clients seeking to get a swimming pool built. (The initial design phase is the same as it ever was, starting with hand-drawn sketches that are gradually developed into more detailed, formal plans.)

“During this phase, we’re already thinking about the major facets of the project: how the work will harmonize with the home’s architecture, how the traffic will flow and the different areas will function,” Kraisinger said. “We’re also considering the drainage, elevations, and the major features, such as the pool, spa, patio, hardscape, and plantings.”

After these 2D designs are complete, Kraisinger and his team scan them and use Photoshop to color them in, giving a bit more solidity and vibrancy to these flat depictions of what will eventually be a physical landscape.

Unlike most 3D design processes, CAD software isn’t used. Instead, the team relies on a number of different 2D renderings from different angles to build up its final 3D plan. This is then sent to the team’s in-house Ultimaker 2 for printing, usually using ABS filament.

This straightforward desktop 3D printer allows a 3D printed model of the pool to be created relatively quickly, and the team makes sure to print in off-white so as to not misrepresent the color of its designs, leaving the color palette open to different alternatives and giving the clients as blank a canvas as possible.

The 3D printed model of the landscape design has a variety of benefits. The ability to physically touch and view the swimming pool from multiple angles gives Kraisinger’s team and their clients a clearer picture of what it will look like when built. It also centers the project, acting as a conversation piece that gives clients an idea of what stage of development their pool is at during what can often be hectic times. Some clients also like to keep their 3D printed model as a nice memento of the design and construction process itself.

“3D printed models have become extremely valuable as a design tool,” Kraisinger said. “By seeing the spaces in true three-dimensions, issues with elevations, focal points, movement, scale, and proportion become far more apparent than on a flat screen or printed page. We often make corrections both large and small after we’ve made the model... I think someday, everyone will have [a] 3D printer in their home. There will come a time when we’ll be able to send a file to a client, who in turn will be able to make their own 3D model the way you print out a document now.”

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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