Advancing architectural CAD software is allowing Architects to greater utilise Rapid Prototyping technologies to produce complex geometries and delicate features much faster than traditional model making techniques.
Whilst foam, wood and even on-screen 3D visualisation will never by replace, these techniques are often suited to simple designs. The ability to create complex structures in a matter of days instead of weeks, allows architectures to validate CAD data, review design concepts and demonstrate design difficulties, both internally and for client presentations.
There are a number of competing Rapid Prototyping (RP) technologies available in Australia, commonly used by Architects and designers are SLA (Stereolithography), SLS (Selective Laser Sintering), Objet 3D Printing and Z-Corp. Each technology provides different outcomes in functionally and appearance, therefore it is always important to discuss requirements with RP supplier.
Utilising STL 3D CAD format, the design files are downloaded directly to the RP printer and built in a layer-by-layer technique to create the 3D scaled model. The process is quick, accurate and effectively reproduces fine intricate details.
For leading architectural firm, PTW, the RP process was ideal in communicating its award winning international design of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Swimming Centre. For PTW one of the main challenges it faced was to find a suitable technology that could clearly communicate their idea to a panel of international judges. The complex structures of the Watercube design meant that traditional model making techniques gave only limited representation of the unique design. Therefore RP provided the ideal solution.
In conjunction with ARUP, the geometric bubbles that formed the building were created in 3D CAD and emailed to Arrk and built within 5 working days. For PTW, not only did it assist in capturing the imagination of the Chinese people to win the 100 million dollar contract, but it was also used to review and facilitate communication with structural engineers and building professionals.
The Rapid Prototyping technology is provided by Arrk.