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Considerations for this method

3D printing a site model is cost prohibitive for all but the smallest models.

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Material options

METHODMATERIALCOST ($/sf)TIME: file prep (hr)TIME: fab (hr)TIME: assembly (hr)TIME: totalMATERIAL RECYCLABILITY

3D Printing - PolyjetUV-cured resin$7481149.5262.5no

3D Printing - UPrintextruded ABS plastic$86811 83.5 36 130.5yes (special service provider)

3D Printing - Dremelextruded PLA plastic


111050.5116.5yes (special service provider)

File preparation 

To 3D print the site model, we'll need a closed, watertight, error-free STL mesh.

  1. RHINO
    1. Use the Drape command to generate a NURBS surface from the given 3D mesh of the topography.
    2. Trim the bases of the buildings with the topography, and trim the topography with the building bases.
    3. Extrude the curves for the roads and split the topography with the extrusions.
      1. Lower the road surfaces.
    4. Split the model into sections that will fit in the 3D printer.

    5. Create surfaces for the bottom of the model base. It's best to have a grid of surfaces rather than 1 large surface per section.

    6. Create meshes from every NURBS surface according to the guidelines for the 3D printer you plan to use.

    7. Working one section at a time, use the MeshRepair panel to join the top of the model to the bottom surface and to fill the gaps between the road surface and topography.

    8. When finished, use MeshRepair to check for naked and nonmanifold edges. Use the MeshRepair tools to delete the problematic mesh faces and rebuild them.

    9. Export each section to STL individually.
    1. Open the hollowed STL file.
    2. Trim out the rest of the bottom.

    3. Create a structural waffle about 3" on center and the same thickness as the model walls.

    4. Use MeshRepair to check for errors and repair the meshes as necessary.
    5. Export each section with its structural supports in another new STL file.
    1. Open the new STL in Deskartes and verify and repair as necessary.
    1. Submit each section as a separate 3D print job.