The right 3D printer can be an absolute godsend for architects.
Using a 3D printer saves a lot of time in the initial phases of creation and designing. In the initial stages, a lot of different concepts are tested out, and as a result, multiple iterations are required.
Having a 3D printer to print those models can allow multiple iterations performed exceedingly fast. Making a model of a structure was a process that used to take weeks earlier. Now it’s just a matter of a few hours.
They are also cost-effective. Some estimates say you can save up to 75% more money by using 3D printers instead of traditional techniques. This is because the models are printed out of a single plastic material, keeping costs to a minimum.
3D printers are also capable of producing exceptionally detailed and intricate structures. This capability comes in particularly useful when you need to dazzle a potential client at a sales meeting or a presentation.
That’s why we have compiled this list of the best 3D printers for architects.
Best 3D Printers for Architects
- Best 3D Printers for Architects
- 9676 – Ultimaker 3 Extended 3D Printer
- Creality3D CR – 10 3D Printer
- Creality3D CR – 10S Pro
- MakerBot Replicator+ 3D Printer
- Creality3D Ender – 3 pro-High Precision 3D Printer
- Dremel Digilab 3D45
- LulzBot Mini Desktop 3D Printer
- Robo R2 Smart Assembled 3D Printer
- da Vinci Jr. 2.0 Mix Wireless 3D Printer
- Formlabs Form 2 SLA 3D
- 3D Printers For Architects Buyer’s Guide
This one from Ultimaker gives you choices for a wide range of printable materials and the print comes out looking great in every one of them. The extended version provides a larger build volume, faster print execution, and advanced print technology.
The build volume is a maximum of 215 x 215 x 300 mm. This is large enough to accommodate most moderate architectural projects.
What we like most about this printer is its dual extrusion feature. You can combine build and water-soluble support materials to make highly complex mechanical parts and intricate designs. You can even choose to print with two colors.
This printer also has swappable print cores – for both build and water-soluble support materials. This allows for increased uptime. The printing speed is a huge 300 mm^3/s.
The fan system of this model is also very commendable. It makes very little noise and creates greater pressure buildup for increased airflow. This allows for better cooling, high-quality bridging, faster prints, and smoother print surfaces.
LED lights on the interface blink whenever any interaction is required. This allows for a worry-free printing experience.
This one is another DIY assembly model, which is easy to assemble and retains that handmade charm, even though it has an LCD screen with a keypad for more comfortable offline usage. This printer is capable of printing pretty large structures in a short span of time. It is very sturdy and easy to use.
First up, we really like how big the printing space is! (at 300 * 300 * 300mm) This increased printing space is perfect for creating lifelike structural models and allows you to get creative with your process.
An aluminum plte ensures stability and a simple construction allows you to easily make adjustments in the printer. The nozzle diameter is 0.4mm, and the print speed is 150mm^3/s, which is pretty fast for how precise the printing is. A 100-micron layer resolution and an exceptionally stable metal plate lead make for a perfect recreation of your architectural 3D files.
It comes packaged with several tools for assembly, printing tools, and even a micro SD card and an adapter for the same. Using the tools and following the instructions, you can get the machine up and running in less than an hour. It is really very simple.
This one from Creality3D is another excellent printer, for both beginners and professionals alike. A huge volume lets it tackle mammoth challenges. It has a huge host of features which address common issues facing most 3D printers of today. On top of that, it looks just as good as it prints.
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The volume of 300*300*400 is a lot larger than most 3D printers and lets you print bigger, more detailed models.
An automatic leveling functionality, powered by a very intuitive and intelligent four layer motherboard fills in all gaps dynamically and provides for greater printing accuracy. The statuses of all functions and parameters are on display on a full-color touch screen control, which makes using this printer an absolute breeze.
The motherboard has other functions as well. It can automatically sense changes in the filament being used and can even detect transparent filaments. It shuts down the system automatically when you are running out of filament.
If you accidentally power off the printing, it will simply just pause, and you can resume printing at your convenience. It won’t hurt the model at all.
Some filaments need a high amount of heat to be printed. This printer can go up to 110 Celsius in only 5 minutes, making for a very efficient printer.
The 0.4mm tooth nozzle ensures that there are no air gaps in your model and it can go up to speeds of 180 mm^3/s
The MakerBot Replicator has been designed for more precise, reliable and faster printing. It is sturdy, easy to use and has a huge amount of versatility because of the MakerBot print software you use with this product. Designed for architects and engineers, we think this is an excellent choice of printer.
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The MakerBot Replicator prints 30% faster than previous models and has a much larger print volume as well. They have re-engineered and improved the hardware as well, with a redesigned gantry and Z-stage. All the hardware has gone through an intensive quality control check for many thousand hours.
What we really like about this product is its seamless integration with the MakerBot print software and MakerBot Mobile. This software allows you to find, prepare new designs, and manage and share all of your prints. You can make your own designs or just use a model from their online library.
This software also lets you connect to the inbuilt camera inside the printer, which lets you monitor progress while you’re away from your computer. It allows cloud functionalities as well.
The MakerBot Smart Extruder has automatic jam detection and out-of-filament notifications. MakerBot SlatePLA Filament Bundle is as secure as they come and makes for prints high in tensile and flexural strength.
First up on our list comes this very efficient 3D printer, that is precise, works fast and is easy to use. It is simple with a very humanized design yet fulfills a wide variety of printing purposes from architectural models to movie props to furniture design.
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Straight out of the box, it’s a DIY model and comes packaged with pliers, nozzles, pneumatic fittings, cable tie, blade, Allen key, screwdriver and plenty more. Following the instructions, it is pretty easy to assemble the printer with all the included tools.
Because of the technology used, the risk of spillage and plugging is really small, and the high-quality structure ensures smooth and stable function with minimal wear and tear.
What we also liked was that it heated up in only 5 minutes to the temperatures required to print certain filaments. We also found the mounting groove and structure to be very stable, and the printing was exceptionally precise.
Another feature we really liked was you can resume printing while the printer is powered off. Thus it is not necessary to keep the rest of the device powered on while you are printing.
One of the most popular choices of 3D printers out there, it has won several awards, and it is easy to see why. It has every feature you can think of in a printer included in it and then some more. Designed for engineers by its parent company (Bosch) this is indeed a great choice, as testified by hundreds of satisfied customers.
- Granted PCMag 2018 Editors' Choice Award
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What we really enjoyed about this product is the host of things they offer along with just the printer:- 1-year warranty, stellar customer support, UL safety certification, free desktop, and cloud-based slicing software and also one nylon and one eco-ABS filament roll. That’s an awful lot of perks for just a 3d printer.
The build volume is a very large 6. 7″ x 10″ x 6″. The design is a very sturdy plastic which provides for enhanced security and less warping. It also includes a carbon and particulate filter.
There are no compromises when it comes to reliability. A sensor technology makes this extruder functioning smooth as silk without ever clogging up.
But what is by far, the best feature is its filament recognizing technology. This technology automatically updates extruder and build plate temperatures, along with print speeds depending on the kind of filament being used.
The glass plate can heat up to 100-degree Celsius, and the full metal 0.4mm nozzle can go up to a whopping 280 degree Celsius. This level of heat easily allows it to print nylon and ABS.
It has a semi-automatic leveling technology for easier calibrations and greater accuracy. The 5-inch full-color touchscreen lets you precisely level the plate in real time, with just turning a knob.
This is a desktop 3D printer which literally looks like a desktop CPU. This model has a lot of versatility like it can be used with any 3D printing software program, and it has open source hardware. All this means you’re free to use this 3D printer any way you like. This opens up a world of possibilities.
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What we think is the best feature of this printer is the self-leveling and self-cleaning nozzle. Each print starts with a nozzle cleaning and probing sequence that guarantees a neat and perfectly smooth first layer.
Next up comes the build volume of 6in x 6in x 6.2in. There’s a large range in layer resolution as well. It can be as fine as only 50 microns, and it can also be as coarse as 500 microns. All of it depends on the geometry and speed requirements.
The all-metal hexagon hot end provides temperatures of 300-degree celsius and also as low as 120-degree Celsius. Active heat sinks ensure the heat stays where you need it to be. The print speed reaches a maximum of 275mm^3/sec at 0.18 mm layer height.
You can even take out the tool head and plug in different print heads for printing on a variety of materials, even filaments which are mixed with real wood, stone or metal. We find this functionality to be astounding.
This one is hands down the fastest and the printer with the biggest build volume in this price range. It has won a ton of awards for its innovation and has a multitude of smart features and sensors that are sure to make your life a lot easier.
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What we found very impressive about this printer was its huge build volume of 8” x 8” x 10”. On top of that, it has a print range of 20 to 300 micron in layer height. All this ensures it can tackle whatever project you have in mind.
It has an open source filament system. What that means is that you can print on any material available in the market, even carbon fiber, nylon, and wood. You can try out anything you want.
What’s also impressive is its whole host of smart features like automatic detection leveling, sensors which alert you when the filament runs out, an onboard camera so you can see your prints and wifi connectivity through the Robo App.
It can directly print 3D models in .stl format. You can slice it right on the intuitive 5 inch touch screen, and you can even store up to 4 GB of 3D models. The printing speed is a considerable 16mm^3/s.
This is a very attractive product which is sure to make for a very aesthetically pleasing addition to your repertoire. On top of that, it can produce prints just as colorful as its own color scheme.
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The primary advantage this printer has over other printers in the market is that it has a very innovative dual feeding single extruder module. What this allows it to do is you is you can blend two different colors in a single model. As a result, you can have two different colors on different parts of the same model.
You can even print in gradient mode. This allows you to mix two colors partially and slowly allowing you to come up with many other shades formed by the mixture of those two colors. This makes for very cool looking designs.
It is ready to print right out of the box with their free starter filament. It has a resolution of 100 to 400 microns and has a building space of 5.9″ x 5.9″ x 5.9″. The build speed is also very impressive, at 120 mm^3/s.
It has wifi connectivity so you can send files over your computer or mobile device without ever having to worry about wires.
The last 3D printer on our list, this one from Formlabs is an excellent option for budding architects. It is simple, yet highly functional and makes for a nice polished print whenever you give it a run.
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It has a pretty impressive build volume of 5.7″ * 5.7″ * 6.9″. Although that’s not very big, it’s still sufficient for most projects. The layer height range is 25 to 100 microns, which is again decent enough.
Where this printer really scores its point is the finish. It has several washing and post-curing facilities which make sure every part that comes out of this printer looks absolutely gorgeous. It is excellent for printing detailed models which require a dazzling finish.
This printer has an integrated resin system which lets you switch between different materials by simply swapping cartridges. They have 20 different materials, and as soon as you load one of them, the printer automatically detects the resin type and starts configuring settings for it.
When making designs, you can design it in regular CAD software, or you can import an STL or OBJ file into the PreForm print preparation software. You can send prints over WiFi, or reprint previous jobs, and directly from the touchscreen interface.
3D Printers For Architects Buyer’s Guide
This is the single most important factor in a 3D printer. The larger the build volume, the bigger and more detailed your architectural models can be.
If you’re designing a whole apartment complex or a government building, large build volumes help you build the whole thing at once, without individually creating separate parts and then amalgamating them together.
Printing speed is also critical. Some of the more complicated models may take hours to get done, even overnight. The faster it prints, the faster your job gets done.
What materials can be printed
You need to know what kind of filaments can be printed by your printer. Some printers can only print a couple of materials, and others can print only proprietary materials, i.e., materials manufactured by the company itself, while there are other printers which can print all available filaments on the market.
If you want more choices, get a printer which has versatility in selection of the filament.
Some printers can print files created on any CAD software whereas others require you to use their own software or they require you to convert your designs into a specific format.
This conversion can be cumbersome and might also cause a few errors. It’s best to get a printer that is compatible with all designing software.
If it has Wi-fi compatibility, it entirely removes the hassle of wires. What it also does is, it opens up mobile phone compatibility. This lets you use your phone to control your printer, and you don’t always need to be logged into your computer.
Wi-fi compatibility also gives you cloud functionality allowing you to store your designs online, so you can access them wherever you go.
In conclusion, buying a 3D printer requires a fair amount of research beforehand. There are plenty of different types available out there, and each one has different features.
Be sure of what features you need and then check the system specs to see if those features are there. The products listed above are tried and tested, and they do a pretty good job. Just go through the specs to see which one is the best fit for you.