If you are an architect, you not only have to create a design for whatever it is that your client wants, but you also need to create a model of it so that he can see what the finished building or whatever the item is will look like. A scale model enables a way of communicating your design idea to your colleagues and client.
Traditionally architects have done this by carving a scale model out of something such as wood or foam, but this is a laborious process and could take days or even weeks depending upon the complexity of the design. Imagine, for example, trying to produce a scale model of the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
However, today we have the benefit of 3D printing of architecture, and more and more architects are coming on board, as it can produce an accurate scale model in far less time than it does to carve one by hand. Using our 3D printers at London 3D Printing we can produce your scale model for you while you carry on creating the next design, saving you hours or days of producing it by hand.
One of our specialities is SLS nylon printing. We have a highly specialised machine that creates models and product prototypes from nylon powder which is incredibly strong and can produce extremely complex items. It also produces a far smoother finish than other types of 3D printers which means that much less work is required, and therefore time is saved, when it comes to finishing.
Suppose you designed something like a wall tile. It would be very easy to have it 3D printed so that you could use that as a mould which you could then turn into a production run using another material such as ceramics or concrete for instance.
You could also use 3D printing for architecture to produce ornaments, sculptures, children’s toys, and many other items. We can print anything in SLS nylon up to 350mm x 300mm x 450mm. So you can produce something as a one-off or you can have a small production run as you require. Of course, another thing that you can do is easily incorporate any changes that your client may wish to make. You can simply edit the file and have us reprint it. If you need another copy, we can simply print it again. That is one of the benefits of 3D printing because it is quick and simple to introduce changes or simply produce copies as and when needed. Certainly, you can do that with other processes too, such as manufacturing, but you would have to carry out the set-up work every time whereas with 3D printing it’s easy.
3D printing can also be used by businesses for purposes such as consumer research. It is simple to produce a model and then have a product research company undertake the work to ascertain whether or not it is going to be a viable product to produce in quantity and is going to sell. Consumers may also have ideas that would improve the product and make it more appealing to them, and these can be incorporated into another 3D model in order to assess popularity.
Lots of things that we use on a daily basis – toothbrushes, combs, plastic wrappers, drinks bottles, and many more – are used once or maybe many times, and then simply thrown away and replaced with another one. This has led to the situation where many people don’t want to appear to be “the same” as everyone else, and is why designer clothes, watches, jewellery, and so on, are favoured by many people, even though they are – by average standards – horrifically expensive.
The beauty of 3D printing is that we can use it to produce customised items for an individual. Some companies are already producing jewellery and fashion accessories using 3D printing in limited quantities and selling them on eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and so on, and charging good prices for them. By the same token, it would be simple to produce a one-off design for a customer who is prepared to pay a lot for the privilege.
So the future for 3D printing is bright, and the market is only going to get bigger.