AEC Tech News (#242)

14 Jan, 2009

Editor’s note:
The following case study touches on one aspect of 3D printing technology and its applications, the focus of the cover story in the upcoming January/February edition of Cadalyst magazine. Watch for it beginning February 5 on and shortly thereafter in your mailbox.

Above and Beyond the Floor Plan

Andrew Chary Architect uses 3D printing to create intricate models that have his clients beaming.

By Nancy Spurling Johnson

Andrew Chary knew a 3D printer was in his future the minute he saw the intricately detailed models at an ArchiCAD seminar in 2007. The principal of Andrew Chary Architect, a high-end custom residential home designer in upstate New York, recalled how the 3D-printed models conveyed every aspect of the home design, down to the brick and roofing materials.

Chary has owned his Z Corp. Z450 3D printer for a year now. Using a CAD file as its guide, the machine generates full-color 3D models in a high-performance composite material, building layer by layer. The maximum finished model size is 8” x 10” x 8”. Chary chose the Z450 because it is fast, self-contained, and office friendly, he said. “It doesn’t require a special room or special equipment. It’s like a big copier.”

A cutaway model of a cabin by Andrew Chary Architect shows precise detail of a stone fireplace, wood paneling and floors, a beamed ceiling, and windows, all produced in full color using the Z Corp. Z450 3D printer. Click the image for a larger view.


The firm uses the Z450 to create partial and full models of all types, including homes, outbuildings, and site master plans with land contours. Architects take 3D models of project variations to meetings with clients and public officials. “You always have a holistic view of the plan,” Chary said.

A Machine to Call Your Own
3D printing service bureaus are sprouting up around the country as the technology grows in popularity -- many offering 24-hour turnaround. For Chary, however, using a service bureau wasn’t an option.Read more »

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Nancy Spurling Johnson is editor-in-chief of Cadalyst. Reach her at


U.K., U.S. Interest in Sustainable Architecture Growing

By Kenneth Wong

Conventional wisdom suggests that in difficult times people abandon experimental projects to focus on the basics. But the architecture industry may prove to be an exception to this rule.

According to the 2008 Green Index recently released by Autodesk and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), 88% of the architects polled agree that they "should practice sustainable design wherever possible. Importantly, they also see clients as a major influencer — with 70% of architects saying they are a driving force in facilitating greener design."

Adrian Dobson, RIBA's director of practice, pointed out, "This contradicts the popular belief that when money is scarce, clients are more worried about initial costs than long-term savings and are not so concerned about their environmental credentials." Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events

Webinar: Extending BIM to the Trailer and Job Site
January 16, 2009
Noon EST
This webinar from Vico Software will show users how to download critical formwork and steel locations to the Trimble total station, and download centerlines and edge lines of piping and ductwork. Read more »

Cities Revealed Event 2009
February 12 - 13, 2009
Cambridge, United Kingdom
This ninth annual event, hosted by Training4GIS, brings together spatial data users and industry experts to discuss geoinformation technology and research and management techniques. Read more »

SmartGeometry 2009
March 25 - April 1, 2009
San Francisco, California
Join SmartGeometry and Bentley Systems to learn about advanced computational and parametric design from industry experts. Presentations will focus on design, technology, and methodology. Read more »

International ARCHIBUS Users' Conference
April 26 - 29, 2009
Scottsdale, Arizona
Attendees will be introduced to new web-based ARCHIBUS software, including Lease Administration and Preventive Maintenance. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on