As an architect I am interested in 3D printing technology for some time. Since the buildings are developed directly in 3D anyway, it seems obvious to use the data base not only for printing of 2D plans but also for a real 3D model.
As a test object I used my model of the famous Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Germany. It was originally developed for the use in Google Earth, therefore it is very low-poly and the textures are heavily optimized, but it stays a quite complex model as a template for 3D printing. The data of the SketchUp model has to be converted to. stl files, the polys were optimized and the texture slightly retouched. According to information from the manufacturer, “Ulfteller 3D-Druck” from Arnstadt in Thuringia, printing time took about 8 h, then they did some re-working and finally the model was laquered for a better curing of the surface – 3D printing still seems to be associated with a lot of manual work :-)
Overall, the result is impressive and I think 3D printing has potential in architectural scale model making. But in my opinion, in terms of surface quality CNC milling still offers higher quality.
Link to Wartburg Castle 3D-Viewer
View Wartburg Castle in Google Earth
Link to Wartburg Castle in Google Warehouse