CHICAGO, IL (AIA 2014) - Want a 3D print of the luxury house you have created in exquisite detail on your CAD program. Just buy a 3D printer, hook it up to your computer and push a button, right?
For one thing, your CAD model may be far too detailed. There is a minimum thickness for structures to prevent collapse. Or there may not be enough detail. For example, you probably applied a bit map to show the roof tiles. It looks good onscreen but a 3D printer doesn't get bitmaps. That roof is going to be very boring.
Now that's a roof. WhiteClouds, a 3D print service, adds detail to CAD models to show roof tiles.
WhiteClouds, which refers to itself as a 3D print "enabler," understands such limitations. It came to AIA with 3D prints of several luxury homes. It had made one so detailed that 3D Systems keeps one in its lobby, says Jerry Ropelato, CEO.
WhiteClouds is a service that fills the gap between a completed 3D computer model and the final outcome, a part you can hold in your hand, the magic button, which despite all the hype surrounding 3D printing, still does not exist in 3D CAD software. While 3D print service bureaus may provide some assistance I suspect most would probably prefer a 3D print-ready model so they can keep their machines printing. WhiteClouds seems set up to have been created to fill in the missing information between a 3D CAD model and a 3D print-ready model. Why should an architect have to learn the peculiarities of getting a 3D model ready for printing?
WhiteClouds employs additional 3D modeling to insert details like roof tiles so they will appear in the 3D print. "We have developed special routines," says Jerry.
WhiteClouds does not even require 3D CAD models to make 3D prints: they can work even from blue prints. They also makes mechanical parts and assemblies, figures for the entertainment industry, etc., so although AEC appears to be specialty, they are not limited to just buildings. They use Stratasys and 3D Systems machines -- high end ones you can't afford.
They will send a quote after you send them your CAD models or drawings but for purpose of estimation, you can figure the cost of the model will be $0.25 to $0.40 per square foot of the real house using WhiteClouds modeling help and the model itself. This would make the model of the US typical house (2400 sq ft) cost anywhere from $625 to $1,000 though it probably the design of mansions where a 3D model is warranted. Imagine wowing your millionaire clients by showing not just how it looks to friends and neighbors but taking off the roof and one floor at a time. A 10,000 sq ft mansion model may set you back $4,000 but what is that compared to the commission you will earn?