3D Printing in Architecture: Everything You Need to Know

 |  Ankur Gohit

3D Printing in Architecture: Everything You Need to Know

3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process in which intricate or complex desired objects can be manufactured from pre-designed digital format or CAD models. If you are curious about 3D printing and want to know how it works and its benefits in architecture, you are at the right place as you will get complete information related to 3D printing in architecture.

3D printing works on layering technology. Layering technology is a process in which a product is formed by printing layer to layer. This process continues till the final desired product is achieved. 3D printing is contrary to usual subtractive manufacturing, which uses molding, cutting, forging, drilling out parts with the help of different tools. Besides, it uses another different and time-consuming process.

3D printing allows you to produce high ranges of complicated designs within a fraction of time at a low cost compared to other conventional methods.

3D printing is the future of many industries. Many industries will use 3D printing technology to take their work to the next level.

 3D printing is also known by other different names like

  •  Additive fabrication
  •  Additive processes
  •  Additive techniques
  •  Additive layer manufacturing
  •  Layer manufacturing
  •  Solid freeform fabrication
  •  Rapid prototyping

How 3D printing works in Architecture

Step 1: Creating Design in a CAD Modelling Software

3D printing in architecture

3D Model of Home Created in SelfCAD. Image Source: G2

In architecture, you need to create many designs; they may be 2D or 3D designs. For creating a 3D model of the building, house, bridge, road, and any other architecture site, you will need a 3D modeling software. To create your desired 3D product relevant to your field, for example, aviation, food, industry, whatever it may be, the first thing you need to do is create a digital model of the product.

 A 3D modeling software is useful in creating a digital file. As you know, multiple and different 3D software is available in the market. Choosing the best 3D software for your specific task is the big question. If I buy it, will it prove to be a blue-eyed boy for my working field?

Whether you are a beginner or professional, the one 3D CAD software that should always be on your desktop is SelfCAD. SelfCAD is an affordable 3D modeling software that can be used for modeling, designing, rendering, lighting, and many other works. It can match any skill level, whether you are a beginner or a professional.

The interface of SelfCAD software is straightforward, and that’s why it is easy to use. Whether you're a business person, freelancer, or student, you can make use of this software.

3D printing in architecture

Architectural design done in SelfCAD

SelfCAD is a 3D modeling software that creates objects, scenes, and 3D designs in much less time than you would if you were using traditional CAD software. With a bit of knowledge of 3D designing, you can make an excellent design to solve user experience problems.

SelfCAD has a lot of substantial training materials that can help you as a beginner. There are interactive tutorials, YouTube videos, and 3D modeling beginner courses on Udemy that allow one, regardless of their experience, to get started on 3D modeling with much ease.

Users are given a 10-day free trial where they have full access to all the tools. After the 10-day free trial, you can either continue with the free version, with limited access to tools, or you can subscribe to any of the following packages.

Free: Forever (with limited features).

SelfCAD Pro Monthly: $14.99.

SelfCAD Pro Yearly: $139.99.

SelfCAD Perpetual License: $599.00 (Lifetime access)

Step 2: Convert design to export as an STL file

When your desired model is created, the typical format used for 3D printing is proselytism as an STL file or export it in an STL file. 

STL generally stands for ‘stereolithography.’

Step 3: Slicing: 

Once your design is finalized, then the following process is slicing. Slicing is a process in which your desired product is sliced into several layers. To do this, you need slicing software. Slicing software parts your designs into many layers according to the dimension you have chosen for your 3D printer.

Depending on your product range, whatever dimension you need can easily be sliced into different ranges like hundreds or even thousands.

Slicing software provides you with different customization

  • Colour
  • High-speed printing
  • Temperature
  • The layering of each object
  • The tool path

Basically, when your file is sliced, you can directly export it into your 3D printer. Export can be done by using USB, SD, or WIFI; you need a G-code file for this process.

G-code is a type of language in which commands have been given to the machines. This will enable you to move parts of the 3D printer. So, at last, when your desired design is ready, you can export it by USB, SD, or WIFI.

Benefits of 3D Printing in Architecture

3D printing in architecture

3D Model of Home. Image Source: All3DP

1). Rapid prototyping: The most crucial factor in 3D printing is time. Conventional methods used to be time-consuming, but manufacturing within less time with high quality is mandatory in this competitive world. Conventional methods are not suitable for intrinsic printing because they take lots of time, whereas 3D printing stands entirely opposite. Within a fraction of time, it prepares your desired product.

If you want to create a sample of any building or bridge, you can create a 3D model with the help of a 3D printer in much less time as compared to the traditional method.

2) Flexibility: 3D printing is specially made for intrinsic designs. A higher and complex design can be resolved with 3D printing, which old conventional methods can not.

3) Easy to access: Versatility takes it to a new level. Where conventional processes are performed by only dexterity, whereas the number of people using 3D printing is increasing day by day because it is easily accessible and fits anywhere you want.

4) Easily customized: 3D printing has infinite customization according to customers’ demands. Industries are growing day by day, and proportionally demands are vacillating. The most important advantage of 3D printing is that it stands in every box of customer demands.

Advantages of 3D Printing in Architecture

  1. Building a model by hand is a long and time-consuming process, and it requires patience to achieve quality results and make a perfect design. But, a 3D printer will easily cut the timeline by a considerable amount. You can get the 3D model in much less time.
  2. When you use 3D printing to create architecture models, you don’t need a labor force to measure, cut, gluing, etc. It will save you money as well as time. By getting more time, the artist can focus more on designing the model.
  3. To create a complex design by hand, you will need a lot of time, and it is hard to create an intricate design by hand. But, with the help of 3D printing, you can easily create a complex design and also provide better details. 3D printer plays a vital role in printing and displaying complex features such as facade or an elaborate textured roof.
  4. 3D printing allows you to test multiple design concepts quickly. You can choose the best design among the various options available. You can 3D print a building model to determine its relationship with its close surroundings and how it fits with the neighborhood on a more significant level.
  5. Architects can experiment with a range of materials and colors. Architects get an option to better communicate with the design and feel the design. They don’t have to make much effort in painting and finding the best color for building. 
  6. Architects can create multiple copies of the final design, and the 3D print file can be stored for further reference. You can’t make multiple copies of the final design in the traditional method because it will take time. This is also an added advantage for freelance designers who are working with clients. You can provide a scale model copy of the project to the client.


3D printing has its uses in various industries. 3D printing has made the work hassle-free, and it also saves a lot of time. Importantly, 3D printing plays a vital role architecture industry. Architects use 3D printing technology to take their work to the next level. Nowadays, with the help of 3D printing, architects can create 3D models of buildings, bridges, offices, and others in less time and with much ease.

Now you know how 3D printing works in the architecture field and how people and architects benefit from it. If you have any questions and problems, feel free to ask; we will respond as soon as possible.

Enjoy powerful modeling, rendering, and 3D printing tools without the steep learning curve.

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