3D Printed Factory Layout: Dioramas & Architectural Models

3D Printed Factory Layout & Diorama

The Age of Digital Manufacturing and 3D Printing is being used in unimagined ways. A new streamlined process of turning standard 2-Dimensional site plans and factory layouts into inspiring 3-Dimensional 3D printed dioramas is the current request by many architects and industrial companies. Do you want to know more about this latest trend? This article covers all the important questions about 3D printed Factory Layout and Dioramas.

3D Printing Architectural and Factory Layouts
3D Printing Architectural and Factory Layouts

Model Building For Architecture and Construction

Model building is an old art form that brings a form of 3-Dimensional sketching of traditional site layouts to visualise a prototype.

Questions Concerning Model Building
Questions Concerning Model Building

Why Are 3D Scale Models Used?

Professionals and organisations use 3-Dimensional scale models to visually convey a site map, factory layout or construction. Traditional 2-Dimensional paper drawings of the original design are used to construct the 3D scale model. This creates a form of 3D sketching which allows the teams to visually illustrate and understand the intended design of a building or layout of a factory. In many cases, it allows architects and engineers to understand light illumination in various spaces, analyse the best structural forms and develop an understanding of spatial and material relationships for the intended structure. Scale modeling and dioramas have been used to represent various structural designs for many years. Many of which, are crafted by hand and usually take multiple weeks to complete with the final product always labeled as a working prototype.

3-Dimensional Architectural Model
3-Dimensional Architectural Model
Image via: www.newindiahobbycentre.com

When Are 3D Scale Models Used?

3-Dimensional scale models are used by professional organisations such as architectural, construction, engineering and property firms. These models are used to visually illustrate the expected final manufactured or constructed structure. During the design process, once the final 2-Dimensional floor plans have been certified and construction commences, these 3D scale models are made to show investors, project teams and potential customers what the expected construction will look like.

Scaled Model of a Construction Site
Scaled Model of a Construction Site

How are 3D Scale Models Made?

3D Scale models are miniature representations of actual buildings, construction sites, factory machinery, road layouts, and geographical locations or environments. 2D plan drawings are created by architects and engineers that are intended for construction. These drawings are one-to-one representations for the intended engineering work. The 3D scale model is built by following these drawings or digital representations but at a reduced (scaled) version. Various types of materials are used to make traditional 3D scale models. The table below illustrates some of the common traditional materials used.

HIP Plastic
Acrylic for Structured Surface
MDF Wood
Wooden Reapers
Transparent Acrylic
Common Materials Used
Various Materials Are used to Make Traditional 3D Scale Models
Various Materials Are used to Make Traditional 3D Scale Models

Where are 3D Scale Models Used?

Scaled models are used in various fields of construction or engineering. These models are used as prototype representations of what a final constructed building or factory layout may look like. The table below illustrates some of the common areas that 3D scale models are used.

3D Scale Models
High rise Apartment Towers
Factory Plant
Landscape Greenery Architectural Scale Models
Commercial Architecture Scale Models
Highly Detailed Architectural Monochromatic Models
Factory Plant Models
Engineering Models
Residential Architecture Models
Several Areas that 3D Scale Models are Used

3D Printed Factory Layout: Diorama Case Study

3D Printing Factory Layouts
3D Printing Factory Layouts

Design for a 3D Printed Factory Layout

3D Printing has changed the way people imagine and do things. It brings a new approach to manufacturing and crafting that is to some degree streamlined and fast. The use of 3D printing and harnessing its capabilities are only limited to the creativity and imagination of the user behind it. This is no different in the world of model building, or diorama creation. Building traditional 3D scaled models using old handcrafting techniques takes many hours to firstly plan and then make. In most cases, these handcraft models are not always 100 % accurate. 3D printing can be used to reduce large lead times and still present near accurate model representations.

The traditional approach to the 3D model building requires the builder to painstakingly measure and follow a 2D plan drawing or site plan. In the case of 3D printing, the digital design of the site layout is all that is needed. The 3D digital model is easily converted into print files which can be sent to various types of 3D printers (depending on the type of print finish or detail you may need) to be printed. With advancements in software, many professionals are already using 3D CAD software packages to generate 2D drawings for site layouts.

A case study is presented below where we have designed and 3D printed a complete factory layout. The designs were rough estimates of the actual machinery used in a specific factory due to copyright presented by the company.

Printing Process for the 3D Printed Factory Layout

We used two types of 3D printing processes to create the various components and parts that make up the 3D printed factory layout. The Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) method of 3D printing was used to print the structural pieces while the resin-based DLP printing process was used for small detailed parts and piping for the respective machinery. Three main colours were used, as per the customer’s requirements, which include green, grey and black. With the 3D printing process, various colours can be used to correctly represent your factory layout of the architecture model.

3D Printing Process Used in the 3D Printed Factory Layout
3D Printing Process Used in the 3D Printed Factory Layout

Assembling the 3D Printed Factory Layout

Once all the parts that make up the factory layout were printed, they were assembled together and bolted to the display board. The advantage of using a 3D printable design and having the parts 3D printed is the near-perfect connections and fitting with each interacting part. Custom bolted regions were designed on the bases of the 3D printed parts. This allowed for the entire assembly to be secured with bolts to the display both. Where traditional 3D scale model building relies heavily on adhesives to join everything together, the 3D printed process takes advantage of press-fit designs. This allows models to be assembled together by securely press-fitting them together. This removes the need for adhesives.

Final 3D Printed Factory Layout

Since the 3D printing process doesn’t really need any post-processing requirements once everything is assembled to the display board, the build time is reduced. The final 3D printed factory layout is completed and is a clear representation of the actual factory as well as the digital design.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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