architecture application 3d printing city model sweco

Architects use 3D printing to prototype huge city project

Last week we told you about the Olsson Block, an ingenious add-on for the Ultimaker 2 and Ultimaker 2 Extended 3D printer that allows the nozzle to be swapped in seconds. 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.

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3D printing architectural models

One such inspiring story is that of Henrik Bejmar, an architect working for Sweco, the largest architectural and engineering consultancy firm in Europe. Headquartered in the beautiful city of Stockholm, he’s helping a team of architects create a monumental new development in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The project contains over 280 hectares, which will hold over 60.000 to 90.000 apartments and 200.000 office spaces once finished. To help bring their ideas to life they needed a rapid prototyping tool they could rely on every day to create models with tight deadlines. So they turned to 3D printing and started using the Ultimaker 2 Extended 3D printer with an Olsson Block.

Architect Henrik Bejmar

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. 

Benefits of 3D printing in architecture

Because of the size of the Sri Lanka project, they needed to print at different scales, and thanks to the new Olsson Block they could do just that. 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.

The Colombo scale model
Sweco plans

This flexibility gives them the freedom to create giant scale models precisely as they need them to be, great for presentations to their clients. And of course, the benefit of being able to prototype their ideas themselves is that it saves them a great deal of both time and money.

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