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Common site modeling methods and their associated costs

The table below compares the costs (time and money) associated with common site modeling methods. Click on any column header to sort the table by that factor. Click on a method name for more information about the process and related considerations.

  • "Time" refers to the total amount of active time required for a process, setting up the file, preparing the material, operating the equipment, and any final assembly. It does not include sourcing the material nor any time that might be required while waiting for schedule appointments, etc.
  • "Software Skill Level" refers to the relative amount of skill required in software packages outside of the basic CAD program by a given method.
  • "Material Recyclability" refers to support recycling programs here at the GSD.



total hours


Laser cut topography: horizontal

1/16" chipboard; plywood base

$30231yes (if unpainted)
Laser cut topography: horizontal4ply museum$62


1yes (if unpainted)
Laser cut topography: offset methodcrescent board (2 sheets total)$10


1yes (if unpainted)
Laser cut topography: vertical1/16" grey chip + basswood dowels + acrylic$4136.51yes (but not acrylic)
CNC milling: smooth terrainwhite foam$89.253yes (special service provider)
CNC milling: smooth terrainplywood$4017.253yes (if unpainted, MDF is not recyclable)
CNC milling: smooth terrainhardwood (poplar)$3417.253yes (if unpainted)
CNC milling: stepped terrain (fine)white foam$817.853yes (special service provider)
 CNC milling: stepped terrain (1/16" contours)white foam$89.253yes (special service provider)
3D printing: ZCorpwhite powder$269462no
 3D printing: Objetacrylic monomer$74862.52no
 3D printing: UPrintABS plastic$868130.52yes (special service provider)
 3D printing: DremelPLA plastic$26116.52yes (special service provider)


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