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By Aidan Newsome
I'm starting a general discussion going from an ArchiCAD model to a 3D printer. I'm currently researching this process at an architectural firm in Canada. There's not much information on the IoT, so I think it's a good idea to get a discussion going. I'll post my weekly updates here.

To begin, here are some of the resources out there: ... -archicad/ ... Buildings/

If you have more useful information on your ArchiCAD to 3D printer process, then please share it here. The goal is not to go through other software (Rhino or other 3D mesh-based software) because most of the people on these boards and in our firm are most comfortable using ArchiCAD to draw their models.

Also, I'd be interested to see if anyone has been able to print a detailed/almost-completed ArchiCAD model successfully. For instance, without redrawing it.
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By nardo99
I have printed several models with a small 3D printer in my office. The process is fairly convoluted and it involves creating the model in ArchiCAD but using different software to partition the model out in the various pieces before printing. I have used Sketchup for most of the brunt work but some times I use AutoCAD mesh maker to adjust the model before using the slicing software and create the G code. To be honest I am still refining the process. It depends on how detailed your BIM model is (depending on what stage the project is in) and how much detail you want to keep from the BIM model into your final printed model. For small scale stuff with less detail recreating the model from scratch makes the most sense. Either way, it's not a very streamlined process and it requires a good amount of time.

You could probably do all of the work in Archicad if you wanted. It would take some time to develop a workflow. I will look over my data to see if I was ever able to print directly from Archicad.

I am out of the office now but the last project I printed (probably 6 months ago) was I believe in a 3/16 scale and took almost 60 hours to print the various pieces. I believe I had to split the model into 8 pieces or so. The model is probably 6-8" tall, 6-8" long and 4-6" wide (or something like that)

I have a Prusa machine. I recently purchased the multi-material add-on, and I was hoping to be able to print using PLA and water-soluble filament to limit the number of parts. Unfortunately, I am still trying to make the printer work with the added components - work has been very busy so time has been limited and the printer is collecting dust.
By Aidan Newsome
Thanks, nardo99. I agree with everything you've explained. These are the same problems I'm running into. We have an IDEX printer, so we are also going to print with PLA and a soluble filament with the second nozzle. I am working on creating some tutorials for the office now—lots of workarounds. I'm finding the best method is to view a portion of the selected model in 3D and export it as a Rhino file. Then import the Rhino file as an object in a new document. Then I'm merely redrawing a less complicated version overtop of it. Adding details etc. using complex profiles. It's working so far, and it's quite fast. In the end, you can convert it all to Morph perhaps and Boolean Union it all. That way, it's super clean for the 3D printer. I haven't got that far in the process, but I'll let you know how it goes.
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By nardo99
I would love to see some images when you have some time. Attached is an image from one of my prints. I cannot post pictures of my biggest model since I remembered there is an NDA associated with it.

The grid below the model is 1" grid for reference.

2020-06-23 13.38.51.jpg
By MBLArchitecture
We got into 3D printing mid 2019. We purchased an UltimakerS5. I quickly learned its all about what scale of the project you are printing that determines if you need to modify your AC model. I don't like using multiple software programs to do what one should. So I figured out how to set a detailed model up in AC and save out a .stl file and then use Cura to print my model. It seemed everyone was redrawing their models in Rhino or other software. I didn't have time for that so here is my process. I leave all the detail on my models and just have some slabs I use on a 3D print layer that I use to make my models solid after doing some solid element operations. I do have the luxury of having dual extruders on my printer so I am able to use a PVA or other breakaway materials for supports. Attached are images of a large model that is one piece we did for a development idea we were working on. The only thing I did before exporting the model from AC was to make the models solid by using solid element operations with slabs. Then I exported the the model as a .stl file and printed it from Cura. It was printed using the Ultimaker white PLA material and set to 1.5 print quality. If I remember right it took around 4 days to print. You can see it still has the windows, gutters, stairs and railing. The stairs and railing are not smooth do to the PVA support material and how small the actual stairs and railing are. I don't remember what scale I printed this out but it did just about max out the print bed in one direction. If I wanted everything to be smoother I could have broken the model into pieces and printed Columns, Stairs, railing, and all the other parts individually and glued them together but I didn't have the time for that. The important thing to figure out is what scale you are printing and see wether or not certain level of detail can physically print that small. We were printing some 1:20 scale model buildings and a lot of our overhangs and other major design components were not going print. We could tell this by previewing it in Cura. So we had to fudge the depth and size of components just so they would actually print. This is where it becomes more time consuming. So the larger you print the less time modifying or tweaking your model is necessary.
By Braza
MBLArchitecture wrote: If I remember right it took around 4 days to print.

Wow! Do you mean 96 hours?! :shock:
BTW. Nice job and thank you all for sharing your experience in this uncharted terrain which is 3d printing for Architecture representation.

By MBLArchitecture
Yes, it was a long print but with the filament sensor and power lose features on this printer its fairly safe to run one that long. I get to use up small spools on some projects by letting it run out of filament and just replace it with another small spool. If it was a high detail print I would not do that but typically you can't usually see where the print started and stopped. At least on PLA material. The stop and start on other materials may show up. Most of our prints seem to be in the 20 hour range.