Rapid Prototyping for architecture

Architectural model making has undergone a revolution in the past few years. The ability to create scale models directly from 3D CAD data in a matter of hours is a reality and the technology is currently being used by key architectural practices for the creation of proposed and as-built designs.


The model building process

For a formal quote (and of course in order to build the physical model) 3D CAD data is required. This can be sent to FORMERO in a number of formats but the industry standard Rapid Prototyping format is STL. However, it should be noted that not all 3D CAD systems produce good STL output.

To help with the process of data production, FORMERO consults closely with clients to teach them the best way to export data from a wide range of 3D CAD applications. These sessions also include tips on the most effective way to build 3D CAD models specifically for Rapid Prototype model production.

Once the data is received FORMERO project managers assist the client in choosing the process best fitting their requirements. 


Formero's Rapid Prototyping Technologies

Formero employs three key Rapid Prototyping (RP) technologies for the production of its architectural models. These are Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Stereolithography (SLA) and Objet 3D printing.

SLS is ideal when interior details are required within a structure, however because it uses powder its surface finish is a little rough. SLA can provide excellent surface definition and see through models and Objet‘s new Connex500 3D printing systems allows the print of models with multiple materials, offering an unprecedented level of design emulation.

For model production, a degree of hand finishing is often necessary after the build, particularly for SLA models to smooth the surface or to hide marks made by layering or supports. In the case of SLA and Objet 3D printing, models are printed using a support material that needs to be removed by hand. Some clients also require additional finishing on their models such as paint jobs or specific textures.

In terms of single build volumes, FORMERO currently has a capacity of 500 x 500 x 250mm for single SLA models, 400 x 340 x 270mm for single SLS models and 490 x 390 x 200mm for single Objet 3D printing models. In many cases multiple models are joined together to form a larger model. 

FORMERO also offers Polyurethane (PU) for the creation of short batch runs for actual architectural fittings such as specialised door handles.



  • Extremely quick turnaround time (While traditional model makers may take weeks, the average turnaround for projects is two to four days)
  • Relatively low cost of models compared to traditional model making. Models can cost anywhere from hundreds  to thousands of dollars depending on size, which is the primary driver as this dictates the amount of machine time. Other factors that can affect cost include amount of surface finishing and any required textures or painting. These post processes are all done by hand in house by extremely skilled labour, which is in contrast to the automated RP technologies used for actual model production.

For further information about 3D Rapid Prototyping for Architecture models, please download the datasheet available in the top right hand corner of this page.


Testimonial - Michael Thomas,

Michael is a final year Architectual student at Melbourne Uni. who developed a 3D model of a Railway station (see image featured right) for his Masters Thesis.  Michael describes his experience of dealing with problems like 'surface geometry errors'....   Formero offers some useful tips for Architects and Designers to consider next time you are designing a model.   download









Rapid Prototyping for Architecture models

Rapid Prototyping 3D modelling information


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