3D Printing Scale Models with Laney LA

Laney LA 3D Printing

Industry: Architecture
Application: Scale models
Benefits of 3D Printing:

– Practical application
– Visualise designs in the real-world
– Show clients accurate scale models

Architect Paul Choi used 3D printing at his old firm for two decades. When he joined Los Angeles design firm Laney LA, he wanted to continue his use of 3D printing, but they weren’t regularly using physical models. An introduction to the technology was needed. Today, Laney LA use physical models in almost all their projects – and they manufacture them with a 3D printer.

Finding the right 3D printer

Choi set out to find the right 3D printer for the firm. He was aided by the fact Laney LA already had a digital modelling workflow (they created digital designs of their buildings using CAD). Choi considered various print technologies, and heard about the Form 2. “I did some research and heard about how good the Form 2 machine was; it was the right fit in terms of scale and ease of use for our firm.” Choi said, “Firms that are already using 3D modelling have an advantage. Formlabs makes it pretty easy to make that transition from a 3D model into an actual 3D print.”

The team use Grey Resin to 3D print their scale models. Grey Resin is a general purpose prototyping resin that shows fine detail well. It’s also easily painted.

Mock ups

3D printing scale models

Laney LA have integrated 3D printing into their day-to-day workflow. They use scale models to visualise designs in the real-world. They started out printing models that marked milestones in the design process – they would basically “freeze” key moments in a physical model for the client. This quickly developed into printing models for design iterations. Now, they use 3D printing as a tool to assess the next steps in the design process.

“Physical models are increasingly rare in a field where photorealistic renderings and VR technology are advancing, but these models allow architects to test spatial qualities in ways that digital models cannot,” Choi said.

“If we weren’t using a 3D printer, we would feel compelled to spend more time visualizing designs through renderings and drawings. The ability to have a physical model of a complicated design straight from a 3D model in CAD gives us multiple impactful images in less time.”

3d-printed-architecture-model 1

Finding value in 3D printing

Although they design a wide range of buildings, most of Laney LA’s projects are custom homes, either for property developers or homeowners. The team likes to use 3D printing to develop scale models throughout a project. This allows them to visualise each change and present it to the client. On this, Chai said, “It’s fun to always try to depict a certain idea about the project and isolate that through the model, whether it’s a certain room or a space that we want to highlight through a section cut of the model, or even the topography of the site.”

A perfect example of the firm using 3D printing to create the topography of a site can be seen in the following photo:


For this project, showing the slope of the site was important. So, they 3D printed the site using Grey Resin. The scale model highlights increments of two-foot elevation which is extremely useful for contractors. “Trying to— get the most out of a 3D print is really helpful. It’s a valuable asset not just to the design process, but for growing the business,” Choi said “It’s helped us in terms of marketing, and in terms of just talking to potential clients, or potential builders or contractors.”

3D Printer: Form 2

Material used: Grey Resin

This information was first published on the Formlabs website.

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