In this article, we’ll tell you about how we created the model of the head office building of Novo Nordisk, a global pharmaceutical company.
The popularity of 3D printing in architecture is steadily growing. Architectural models are highly estimated by both developers and architects; moreover, many companies adorn office interiors with 3D miniatures of their buildings. This is an example of such an order.
The Client submitted the request with pre-determined renders of buildings, constructions, and infrastructure, with a layout plan and several photos of the real-life object.
It was impossible to find the 3D models used for the creation of the renders; however, it didn’t matter: in the process of layout design, it is much more convenient to work with your own custom models, built up from scratch.
Before the time of 3D printing and computer controlled machines, architectural models were designed and built by hand from paper and foam plastic, which had particular weaknesses, such as poor accuracy and long production time.
As we had only a couple of photos, some renders, and the plan of the small part of the main building, it took us quite long to figure out the scale dimensions. We made several renders of the basement; compared them to the source images. One of the Client’s requirements was to dispose the architectural model on the area no more than 1 sq. m; it was fulfilled. The bottom-line square of the model base was 0.97 sq. m.
At the stage of the miniature assessment it became evident that the main building on the model area was quite long. Consequently, decision was taken to build up the maquette based on the inner “skeleton” of this building. Next comes the cladding, and then – smaller details. All the objects have well-defined shapes and angles. This finding allowed us to select the most suitable material – acrylic. It is elastic enough – not too much, just as needed. In the process of shaping or laser-beam cutting, details from acrylic sheets keep their sharp contours and clear lines.
The frame of the main building was constructed from 4 mm acrylic.
It is an appropriate thickness in respect of the model parameters, comfortable to work with and providing necessary stability.
The maquette was designed as an assembly construction kit, with allowance for dimensional tolerances (0.1 mm) and the thickness of laser cutting (0.13 mm).
Therefore, the architectural model of the territory was created, with paths, house footings, parking lots, and curbs. All the elements were engraved 1 mm deep on 9 mm-thick plywood, and cut.
Then we designed other buildings on the territory. Half of them were assembled from sheet materials too, while the other half were 3D printed using SLA and FDM technologies.
While a model maker was processing ready-made elements — assembled, polished, smoothed, and primed them, — engineers prepared the cladding for the main building. Their choice fell on 3 mm acrylic with 0.5 mm relief carving. The windows and doors were cut through.
Next came assembly and glueing. All the elements came together as intended. The above-mentioned dimensional tolerances served their purpose. The maquette was assembled like a construction kit.
For the model base we used a 15 mm OSB board.
Next steps were the coating of details with putty, then primer coating, coloring in black color, and four-layer matt lacquer coating. The aim was to ensure that the acrylic part of the maquette wouldn't leave marks or scratches on the upper surface of the model base, for the purpose of saving its looks.
Next came the most juicy and interesting part of the project – processing and coloring of model buildings.
After the assembly, all the elements were coated with several layers of primer. By so doing we retained the texture and relief of the buildings; the primer, however, revealed various defects of the surface.
We removed them as in good old days — by means of manual mechanical processing with the use of abrasive paper, for the most part.
The interiors of building frames were colored in black color and lacquered, so that the translucent lighting was not visible through the walls.
We could have used black acrylic; but there was already some transparent acrylic, so we decided to save time. It was important — the order deadline was quite tight.
In order to make the roof textured, we used the dust from acrylic polishing. We sprayed dust in the course of coloring, which let us create uniform coating with dispersion.
An important part of the project was the LED lighting of the maquette. A base plate in the form of a finished block was placed inside the building. A LED strip light was fixed to it. The wires were routed through the model base. The power supply unit was attached to the bottom of the base. It was an optimal solution, as the OSB board doesn’t ignite and burn. In case of malfunction or fault, the lighting will simply go out of service.
The power supply unit was placed into a duct, printed from ABS-plastic in the FDM printer. We also mounted LED lighting on/off switch on the power line.
Initially, the logotype was designed by the Client’s image. It was printed using a Form 2 SLA printer and painted manually by brush.
We were not entirely satisfied with the result, so the logo was copied in high resolution and forwarded to UV-printing.
Cars were printed in the same SLA printer and painted manually.
We could have got some ready-made cars, but this would time-consuming. Besides, it would seriously diminish the originality of the project.
Chimneys were designed and 3D printed, too. They were finished, polished, and colored.
Flagstaffs (length 25 sm, cross section diameter 1.5 mm) were made from steel in order to maintain their stiffness. Fiber flock was placed on the base – for imitation of grass.
The display case was made from 4 mm acrylic. It is one-piece and covers the entire maquette. We mounted it with small gaps, as it is better to construct a display case a little bit larger, than to accept wrong construction tolerances.
When we nearly finished the architectural model, we faced a problem that significantly affected the whole project. The point was that the geometry and the position of the entrance lobby in the main building were different in each render. The Client hadn't issued specific guidance on which design to be considered as essential. Therefore, we decided to improvise, which was a complete wrong decision: at the primary consideration of the project results the Client indicated at the outset that the entrance lobby did not correspond to reality. Besides, there were some other minor inaccuracies.
Together with the Client we drew up an act specifying all the issues of the project, explicitly defined corrective actions, and the final draft delivery date.
At the stage of large scale project approval, we ask Clients quite a few questions and discuss a number of nuances; this situation, however, was yet more proof that there are never too many questions and the amount of acquired information has a direct impact on the work product.
You can order a precise 3D model of any object with the required level of quality by contacting us.
If the amount of your orders is so large that you are considering to start your own 3D printing business, our specialists are always ready to help you choose all the necessary equipment and materials.