Art and science have always come together in the field of architecture. An artist can imagine any building they want, but if it isn’t possible (or practical) to build it, then it will never become reality. Architects must understand engineering principles, in addition to art and design.

Because today’s architects use many of the same tools as digital artists, some artists are helping to visualize designs and create blueprints of buildings that may eventually be constructed. Using computer-assisted design (CAD) programs and animation tools, artists can provide realistic visualizations and blueprints. With 3D printed structures on the rise, artists could use these skills to help create more sustainable buildings in the future.

How are 3D Printed Buildings Made?

3D printing is an exciting technology that has been available commercially for years. It allows for the printing of 3D objects by layering materials such as plastic into a specified shape. Over time, 3D printers have gotten much more sophisticated, allowing for different materials to be used and for improved precision.

To print a design, the machine must have access to a design file. Digital artists create these designs in specialized programs the machine can understand. With the press of a button and some patience, the design is printed.

In the field of architecture, many professionals are experimenting with the use of 3D printing for creating structures. This doesn’t mean that giant 3D printers are used to create buildings in one piece. Instead, larger printers are typically used to create building materials that can be assembled quickly. A blueprint is still used to plan the building of the structure, as it is with traditionally-designed buildings.

The potential benefits of 3D-printed buildings are massive. By using sustainable materials and nearly eliminating waste, printed buildings could revolutionize the construction industry and reduce stress on the planet. It could also make building much cheaper overall, helping to reduce costs and housing inequality.

Although the industry is still in its infancy, some actual structures have been made using this method. So far, most have been conceptual buildings or small-scale projects, but artists have created visualizations for specific 3D-printed housing projects that have potential. The movement is picking up steam and we may soon see 3D printed structures all over the world.

Using CAD and Animation for 3D Printing

Creating designs for 3D-printed buildings is usually quite different from other 3D printed designs. Instead of creating a design for an entire object, with all the details encompassed in one printed piece, an artist must create a blueprint for the building and determine which pieces must be made to build the full structure.

This is a multi-step process that will often require collaboration with architects and engineers to ensure that the building can be functional and will be safe. Using CAD, it’s easy for an artist to refine or tweak a design based on feedback from collaborators on the project. Any number of changes can be made to the blueprint, even mid-project.

Animation is less common in the design of buildings, but as 3D printed buildings evolve, artists can use this medium in several ways. First, it can be used to create vivid visualizations that can help bring a concept to life. It could also be used to showcase unique moving parts of a building that may be hard to conceptualize without a visual representation. There are a number of different animation tools available, depending on the needs of the artist.

Thinking Differently for Blueprints

Although digital artists are used to working with CAD and animation tools, they will require a different approach for creating blueprints than they would for making art. When considering a practical structure, artists have to pay much more attention than usual to functionality, rather than aesthetics alone.

Blueprints for 3D printed buildings rely on precision. Proper use of mathematical formulas will allow a structure to be built as the architect intended, but poor execution can lead to a lot of wasted time, effort, and materials. Blueprints involve a different mindset and different skills than most other CAD and animation applications.

Helping to Solve the World’s Problems with Art

Most people don’t set out to become artists so they can change the world. But as we rely more and more on computer-generated visualizations, artists find themselves in the middle of important projects that could have a major impact on society. Artists and architects can work together to design buildings for a more sustainable and equitable future.

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