Best 3D Printers for Architects – The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

Building architectural models is a tangible solution for many challenges faced by architects. When the models are created, these are being tested parallel to various different concepts and may require to do through multiple design iterations.


These processes are lengthy and can delay further steps dependent on these initial designing results. This is where 3D printer for architects come into play. Using these 3D printers can help architects save a huge amount of time in preparation.

If you are able to get a hold of the best 3D printer for architects, you may be able to save up to 75% of the cost spent on building architectural models.

Traditional techniques are tiresome and cannot provide the results as precise as the ones 3D printers are capable of realizing. Among the different types of 3D printers, FDM 3D printers, being comparatively inexpensive, offer huge benefits in saving the cost.


FDM printers are known to be the fastest 3D printers among the other printing technologies. Moreover, the 3D printer filament is also highly affordable.

One can expect highly detailed structures when constructing the models using 3D printers. These models are also helpful during the initial phase of the construction process. Helping buyers gain the look and feel of the real model, it increases the sale prospects as well.

What Benefits A 3D Printer for Architects Provides?

3d printing in architecture (1)

With huge freedom that one achieves when working with 3D printing can be used for many challenges across different niches. The same goes for architectural projects. Being one of the most revolutionary and evolving technologies, one can expect 3D printing to introduce a huge difference to the existing work structure.

There are many benefits that a 3D printer for architects offers.


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Providing Cost-Effective Models

Did you know that these printers can reduce the cost of model production with an extensive difference? This is possible and is being employed by many companies for achieving cost-effective results.

By expediting the iteration effort when using various approaches, 3D printers help in minimizing the cost. If the design has finer details, one must get a decent resolution 3D printer.

Also, if your models are large, you must seek for large build volume 3D printers which would help suffice the models with few units. Or else, you may have to print multiple units to combine together to create a model.

Whatever way you choose, 3D printing would anyway cheaper than the traditional cost.


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Reduce the Human Error

When automation happens, many things are taken care of by the machine itself. This greatly reduces human intervention, hence minimizes the error. Think about using foam or wood for carving the models by human hands with the help of tools.

This can lead to many failed attempts, especially when the experience is limited. This is not the case with 3D printers.

One can simply feed the 3D design to the printer, and the machine takes care of the rest. Through specialized training is necessary to use software that produces these 3D files, it is still easy to learn.

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It Saves Time and Efforts

Anytime utilizing machines instead of human labor would provide faster results. The same goes for 3D printing. One can design models faster when using a 3D printer for architects.

Instead of being involved throughout the building process of these models, one can just feed the design to the printer and utilize that time for some other task.

Moreover, 3D printers take much less time to complete a model. One does not need to wait for days or weeks, the task can be completed overnight as well.

With fast printers, the job can be accomplished at the earliest. As these models are not functional prototypes, only the visual ones, these can be printed using simple PLA for a decent output.

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Easy Updating of Models

The best part about 3D printers is that it offers easy updates for existing designs. One does not need to create the entire design from scratch but can make changes to the one already in use.

So, in case, your client asks you to make few twigs here and there, you just need to access the old file and do the necessary changes. The printer would take care of the task from there.

If you have created assemblies, you may not have to change the entire design. You can make the changes in a few parts and the new updated model would be ready. Isn’t that easy and palpable?

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Achieving Vivid Results

When printing with 3D printers, your freedom to choose the material and finishes stretch. You can experiment with new materials and aim to gain different texture to enhance the beauty of the models.

Even accurate fine details can be included in the models when using the right 3D printer. However, you would require to go through the post-processing steps after the model is ready.

This can be simple support removal or certain other steps such as coloring or painting. The kind of result you wish to achieve would decide how much further you will have to work with these models once printed.

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Rise in Productivity

Users can increase productivity by accomplishing tasks faster. 3D printing saves time during the early phase of iteration and changes, hence expedite the entire process towards completion.

Because the 3D printers are capable of working nonstop for hours and hours, one can easily increase productivity to the manifold.

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For Promoting the Construction Projects

These models help visualize the final building and how it would look. The models provide life to the architectural projects that not have been started yet.

There are 3D printers with advanced features capable of building even the outside terrain for giving the models, the real look. With different colors and textures, one can create awestruck models.

These beautiful models help in promoting the projects to customers, hence, increasing early profits.

Even investors can be approached using these models and could be convinced for financing the projects. These models are capable of leaving a strong impression on others, hence, increasing the probability of success.

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Factors Deciding the Cost of Architectural Models

So, after you have decided to print these models with 3D printers, you must be craving to know how the cost differs for different models.

And, how one can keep the budget at the lower side. There are various factors that will affect the cost of your model. However, few are the major ones that you must understand.

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In-House Printing or Outsourcing?

The first question that comes in mind is where to get the models prepared. For this, you can either look for a service center or you can purchase a 3D printer for inhouse production.

If you decide to buy a printer, you must assess the need for it. If your requirement is low and few in a month, you may not be benefited by a 3D printer for architects.

You may go for a cheaper one, but what if, you wish to print finer detail for projects in the future. So, buying a 3D printer with a decent resolution is a must.

If your requirement is huge and you are printing many models, you can certainly go for a 3D printer. In the latter case, 3D printing service center changes would be higher.

One more thing that you must consider when deciding to buy a 3D printer is that you must acquire the knowledge to use the device.

Or else, you must hire someone who can take care of these model manufacturing with 3D printers. Calculating what option would fit better for your projects would help you decide the right option.

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What is the size of the Model?

Some models are small and some are bigger. If the model is large, it would take more material, a greater number of hours to print. This is the reason the budget would surge.

To keep the cost minimum, you can choose the most inexpensive material though. If at all, you can compromise with the surface quality and texture of your model.

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Is Your Model Complex?

This again is one major factor that can take your budget to the higher side. With complex designs, the level of preparation increases.

Moreover, the special 3D printers resulting in high resolution is required for printing. In addition, the time consumed is greater than the hours taken to print simple models.

All these put stress on the budget. Hence, increasing the model cost. So, if your model is complex, even when occupying a similar specification as the previous models of yours, it would cost extra.

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What Material Do You Prefer?

The choice of material also decides what cost you would be paying for the models. There are materials that exhibit exotic qualities such as flexibility, smoothness, texture and much more.

Depending on the cost of the material you want to use, the cost of models would also differ. Hence, if there is no requirement for using expensive material, you can stick to the cheaper ones.

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3D Printing Technology Suitable for Architectural Models

The two 3D printing technologies FDM and SLS are well known for creating architectural models. While FDM printers can be fast and provide decent results in less time, SLS 3D printers are desired when there is a requirement for printing complex and finer details of a model.

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Among these two, FDM is more accessible and affordable. However, depending on the result and precision one requires, SLS can be also a nice option.

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What Features 3D Printer for Architects Must Possess?

Depending on the application, the requirement of 3D printer features differs. The same goes with the architecture industry. With its own demands, not every 3D printers fit the choice.

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Considerate Build Volume: When thinking of creating a model of an entire building or complete landscape, the first thing that comes to mind is the size of the model.

The majority of the architectural models would have more than average size. Hence, one must select a 3D printer offering a decent build space. A very small build volume would only increase the complexity of printing using the 3D printer.

Compatibility with Different Materials: Some FDM printers support limited materials and another offer compatibility with a variety of general as well as exotic materials.

A 3D printer compatible with a larger number of filaments would give you the freedom to experiment with your designs.

Decent Accuracy and Precision: Not every model you would require for different projects would be simple. Some may be very complex.

Owning a 3D printer that does not provide provision for printing finer details would be a big mistake. The device must provide a decent print resolution.

Compatible with Decent and User-Friendly Software: It is important to understand that scaling software can make or break your designs. However, not everyone can utilize the potential of these applications.

If you are a beginner, you may not be able to work with advanced or difficult software. Hence, finding a 3D printer that is compatible with user-friendly software is a must.

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What Materials Are Used for Architectural Models?

From a long list of materials available for 3D printing, there are few that are usually used for architectural models.

Transparent Resin:

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If you are using an SLS 3D printer, you can utilize this material for printing various parts of the model.

This specific transparent resin can be used for fabricating parts such as windows and patio doors. These provide a great look to your final model.


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These are also known as nylon plastic. With this material, the models are created with the help of a granular powder.

This helps in providing a sandy texture to the parts. Also, these are slightly porous, hence can be colored as well.

Gray Resin:

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These are used when precision is the utmost priority with 3D prints. Moreover, it provides a smoother surface finish.


ABS 3d printing (1)

This is the most common and popular material used for the creation of architectural 3D models. Because these are cheaper than the ones listed here, the material is highly desirable.

The material is used by FDM printers which are again cheaper options that the SLS or any other 3D printing technology.

There are other 3D materials as well. You can research about the same and check which material your 3D printer supports. Accordingly, you can use those to build your models.

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Suggestion for 3D Printers for Architects

Here are a few suggestions of 3D printers that are best for architectural models.

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Ultimaker 3 Extended

Ultimaker 3 Extended

Ultimaker is popular for providing great features with the 3D printers. The machine offers huge benefits to users in terms of freedom of design and material compatibility.

Ultimaker 3 Extended even has a larger build space as compared to its predecessor. It flaunts a maximin print volume of 215 x 215 x 300 mm. This is large enough for printing most of the moderate size architectural models.

The printer provides dual extruder and is also compatible with water-soluble support. Hence, one can use two different materials simultaneously.

Moreover, one can also print with two different colors. The machine provides a maximum speed of 300 mm^3/s.

This means that you would be able to print the models faster when compared with most of the cheap options available out there.

The machine also features powerful fans for cooling. These features help in achieving high accuracy and precision. However, there are a few problems when printing with ABS.

But the 3D printer is a great choice anyway. One can achieve great resolution and high-quality print with almost every material that it supports.

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MakerBot Replicator Plus

MakerBot Replicator Plus

3D printing for architects with MakerBot Replicator Plus is a huge success. The machine is designed for providing a reliable experience to its users.

MakerBot Software further makes the job easy and user-friendly. With a sturdy design and easy operations, even beginners can realize great results

. The company claims that the printer is 30% times faster than the older release. In addition, it boasts a larger volume.

You also can use the inbuilt camera inside the printer to remotely monitor the print progress. The MakerBot has included a smart extruder that can automatically detect the jam. It also notifies when the filament is over or about to.

With larger build volume, the printer also excels at providing customer service to its users. One may experience poor adhesion with this printer. However, there are many ways to enhance adhesion, hence, can be corrected easily.

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Creality3D CR – 10S Pro

Creality3D CR – 10S Pro

You get to work with a build volume of 300*300*400 mm. This is a comparatively larger build volume as compared to most of the 3D printers in the market. At the same time, this printer is capable of producing finer details with ease.

There are many other features as well. With the help of automatic leveling functionality, the printing operation can be eased further.

The printer is equipped to provide high precision and accuracy. The intuitive control present on the touch screen interface is also user-friendly and easy to operate.

The printer has many automated features. The change in filament can be detected automatically and can detect even transparent filaments. When the filament is over, the printer shuts down, saving the printing progress to avoid failed prints.

The 0.4mm tooth nozzle is included in the design to provide no air gaps in your models. The printer speed can reach up to 180 mm^3/s.

Among all the best parts, one may be daunted to experience the high noise levels that are accompanied by the printer’s operation.

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Dremel Digilab 3D45

Dremel Digilab 3D45

The printer comes along with a lot of other offerings. One can enjoy a year warranty, UL safety certification, stellar customer support, free desktop, as well as cloud-based slicing software. The package also contains one nylon as well as one eco-ABS filament roll.

If you wish to know the build volume, it’s very large with 6. 7″ x 10″ x 6″ of maximum space. The printer exhibits a sturdy design made of plastic. The printer also has a carbon and particulate filter. This works amazingly when using the ABS material.

An advanced extruder included with the design helps to avoid clogging and provides smoother prints. The printer is reliable and highly accurate.

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LulzBot Mini

LulzBot Mini

After looking at the 3D printer, you may confuse it with a desktop CPU as it looks very similar to it. The printer has the open-source hardware and various other great features that make it optimum for architectural models.

The printer is equipped with auto-leveling and self-cleaning nozzle. Before the print starts, each time the nozzle goes through the cleaning process. This guarantees cleaner prints and no jamming or clogging.

Although looking small, it provides a considerate build volume of 6in x 6in x 6.2in. You can also set different layer resolution for printing desired quality parts. Starting from 50 microns you can go up to 500 microns.

The 3D printer for architects also has a heated bed which provides great adhesion of the first layer. One can print with a maximum speed of 275mm^3/sec using a 0.18 mm layer height. With all the fascinating features, one may have to struggle with the customer service part. And, it does seem a little expensive to its subordinates.

But there is no compromise in the print quality and precision. So, you can choose it for sure.

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The Conclusion

To end the conversation, it is a must that you understand that to make the final decision, you must research properly.

Looking at specifications may not provide you a better picture of which 3D printer to choose. By comparing the needs and the printer capabilities, you can reach to the apt choice.

The 3D printers suggested are very useful and are tested by many users. Moreover, these choices are from renowned brands offering the highest reliability to the users.

So, take time. Go through the details and make an estimate of what all features would help you realize your goal.

You must consider the operation cost and the prices for consumables before assessing the budget. Once sure, you can choose the right 3D printer for architects for the best experience.


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