Make Architects: How 3D Printing Makes Award-winning Buildings

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Make Architects: How 3D Printing Makes Award-winning Buildings

Make Architects

“3D printed concept models mean everyone – from architects to clients – can get their head down and really move around the model; they can pick up and feel the buildings.”

- Make’s Modelshop Manager, Paul Miles explains that the same experience isn’t achievable on a computer screen’s 2D plane.


Designers used iterative 3D printed models to reinvent a West End landmark, LSQ London, while preserving its original exterior.
By unlocking the site's potential with an elegant curved roof, Make Architects won a Structural Steel Design Award in 2017.


Make is a different kind of architecture practice. The employee-owned firm aims to 'design the best buildings, places, and spaces in the world'. Make's Ultimaker 3D printers support the studio's democratic design culture and enable the model-making team to print thousands of models each year – from project concepts to huge context models.

make architects

Model-making before 3D printers

Before using 3D printers, Make’s Modelshop Manager, Paul Miles, relied on traditional model-making methods. Concept models were hand-cut from foam and card; massing models from timber. But this was a time-consuming and labor-intensive job.

make architects

Supporting a workshop culture

Every studio employee is inducted to use the modelshop’s 3D printers and create their own designs.

“The whole package of Ultimaker Cura and the printers means anyone can print a 3D design. With default material profiles, the easy workflow is certainly a big advantage.” Paul said that this wouldn’t be possible without Ultimaker’s easy-to-use ecosystem.

With basic models used for ideation, and post-processed models for presentation, 3D printing has become a hugely important part of Make's design development. A year rarely passes without projects being shortlisted – with some going on to win awards.

3d printed buildings

Scalable model-making on a single network

Over the years, the model-makers’ reliance on Ultimaker printers has increased. After their first two printers were well received by colleagues in 2014, Paul quickly scaled capacity to four and then eight.

Paul says, “When using multiple Ultimaker 3 printers, Cura Connect makes it really easy to track what’s printing and how the machines are. I sometimes log onto the network from home and check the print progress from there.”

Now with 14 printers, the team can create a wide range of model projects.

3d model of city

Paul admitted, "If we need 100 Ultimakers, we'll get 100."

Now, with a suite of Ultimaker 2+ and Ultimaker 3 printers multiplying their efforts, Paul’s team manufactured hundreds of individual structures in two days. The cost? £2,000 ($2,650) for labor and materials, with a two-week build time.

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