Plenty of things can be 3d-printed. Buildings can be nice subject matter because of their solid foundations and general stability (depending on the building). This Instructable will walk you through steps to 3d-print a model of a building, using the Carl Icahn Center for Science in Wallingford, Connecticut as the example.
Step 1: Materials
For this project, you will need:
-- A 3d printer (I used a Makerbot) & enough plastic to build your model
-- Access to floor plans of the building you plan to model (or another method of obtaining a 3d model/ svg sketch of the building, such as 3d modeling it from pictures taken, etc)
-- Adobe Illustrator, or any other program that you can trace a picture and export as an SVG file
-- An application that you can use to convert your SVG file into a 3d model, such as Sketchup or 123d Design
-- a usb
-- needle-nose pliers, a boxcutter, and a file (optional)
Step 2: Floor Plan to SVG File
If your floor plans for the building are on a physical sheet of paper, scan and open them in Adobe illustrator, one story at a time.
Then, trace over the plans in a separate layer (I found the line segment tool particularly useful).
Select your outline and go to Object > Path > Join. This is important if you wish to turn your outline into a 3d-model.
Delete the layer with your floor plan, keeping the outline layer.
Save this file as an .svg
Next, you'll need your 3d modeling software!
Step 3: SVG to 3d Model
Open a new file in your 3d modeling application of choice ( I used 123d Design)
Import your SVG files as sketches, starting with the first floor and going up.
Extrude the first level to our desired height, then align the second floor's sketch over the first floor solid, and repeat until you have a 3d model of your whole building.
Save your file as a 3d STL file.
Step 4: Preparing Your Model for Printing
Open your 3d prep app, such as Cura, and import your STL file.
After your file in imported, make sure the scaling is to your liking. I'd recommend quickly checking through the layers Cura generates to check for any blatant issues.
If it all looks good, export your gcode and load it onto your usb drive!
Step 5: Print & Final Touches
Put your USB into your 3d Printer and print! This could take a while, depending on the scaling of your building.
Once it's finished, you'll likely want to remove the printing raft from the model. This is what the pliers and file are for-- depending on the model and the printer, the raft can be pretty tough to remove!
Shown here are the tools I used and a picture of the raft.
Step 6: Finished!
Congratulations! Your building model is complete.
A couple of Notes on my particular project:
My 3d modeling skills could definitely use some work-- if I did it again, I think the floors of the model would be much more nicely lined up than the final model is.
I also ran into a few problems with the extruder which I now know how to deal with,and could have cut down the printing time of the piece.
If I did this again, I would try to get the windows more accurate-- the real windows are tilted at an interesting angle that would be neat to try to model and print.