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Range of 3D printers available from Z Corporation

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Many architects are using Z Corporation 3D printers to more powerfully communicate their design concepts under ever-tightening deadlines.

Z Corp. 3D printers transform computer models into actual 3D objects, letting firms create physical architectural models in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost of traditional crafting methods. Finished models feature high-definition detail and can display a full spectrum of vibrant colours.

Ramboll is a Nordic engineering consultancy using 3D printed models to present building projects, collaborate with architects and win new business.

According to Ramboll, 3D printing gives Ramboll’s prospective clients a good idea of its unique capabilities.

Ramboll can create compelling presentations that give tangible substance to the superior Ramboll vision in full detail and multiple vibrant colours. The colours, the detail and the textures down to the seams on a model of a masonry wall establish Ramboll’s credibility immediately with the client and are quite convincing.

For example, Ramboll recently needed to introduce a New York architect to the landscape around the planned Orestad district of Copenhagen, for which Ramboll has a multifaceted engineering contract. Rather than fly the architect to Denmark, Ramboll used its Spectrum Z 510 multi-colour 3D printer to create a 3D model of the landscape and took it to a meeting with the architect in New York.

The 3D model provided the architect with a clear and concise vision of the landscape that was almost as helpful as if he had visited the site. A site visit would have been far more time-consuming for all parties involved and the model will be handy for the architect’s reference throughout the project.

According to Ramboll, internally and externally, there is just something about a multi-colour 3D model that stirs the passions in ways that a blueprint or computer file just cannot, for this reason, 3D printing has become a distinct competitive advantage for Ramboll and ultimately, a tool that significantly benefits its customers.

The Realization Group of Miami, Fla., uses its Z Corp. 3D printer to quickly and affordably print 3D architectural models for a host of prominent clients in the region.

According to Realization Group, speed is the key, it can take an order for a model today and drop it off with the customer tomorrow. News of this enhanced capability is spreading quickly by word of mouth. Cost is another factor. In addition to the low machine price, Realization Group can make a model for one-fourth the cost of stereolithography or laser-cutting.

These advantages revealed themselves to The Realization Group in early 2006, when a real estate developer was forced to make significant revisions to a downtown city block known as the Metropolitan Miami project (The Met), a mix of condos, stores and entertainment venues in the heart of downtown.

The Realization Group produced physical models of the complex, including two towers that stand more than two feet tall each, well within a tight deadline for an important meeting with city officials.

The same work would have cost four to six times as much to produce by stereolithography due to the premium for rush jobs. And it would have taken four times as long with traditional laser-cutting methods, meaning the deadline would have been missed.

In another example, a retail office and residential complex in nearby Coral Gables called Lancaster Plaza ordered a model of its premises for marketing purposes. Impressed by the speed, quality and the price of The Realization Group’s work, the company the next day ordered 100 models, one for every new tenant. The Realization Group turned around the order in an astonishing two days.

According to Realization Group, architects cherish tradition and are appropriately sceptical about new technology; it is earning their approval of 3D printing, however, by producing affordable high-quality models in record time. Clients who were dubious at first are now better.

Gilberts is an architectural firm in Edinburgh, Scotland, noted for landmarks like the Pinnacle mixed-use development in Glasgow, the Leith Hospital preservation project and the Great Junction Street retail/residential space, as well as a large volume of ongoing contemporary residential developments.

Gilberts is using the Z Corp. Spectrum Z510 multicolour 3D printer for a wide range of applications, including presentation models for marketing, project models for commissioned work and iterative models for internal design analysis. Engineers for a company called Faber Maunsell have just commenced the commissioning of a series of models from Gilberts to serve as showpieces in its offices throughout the country. Gilberts is also creating landscape models using GIS data and overlaying them with aerial photo images.

According to Gilberts, it can print models in two hours versus the two weeks to two months it takes to create cardboard models that while attractive enough, lack 3D printed models’ durability.

3D printed models also lend themselves to easy iteration because the user can produce them from stored data, unlike cardboard models that have to be made from scratch every time. Gilbert’s clients are impressed and 3D modelling is becoming a thriving business of its own within the firm.

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