Emerging design firm BplusU used 3D technology to display the digital
fabrication process in real-time for an exhibition at the Architecture + Design
Museum in Los Angeles.
Known for exhibiting progressive architecture and design, the Architecture
+ Design Museum became a perfect venue for a real-time digital fabrication
display by BplusU during the summer of 2010. This unique display showed museum
visitors a digital assembly line recreating ‘City Futura’, an architectural
work designed by the firm for a site in Milan, Italy.
Founded in 2000, BplusU is led by Herwig Baumgartner and Scott Uriu, who
have built a reputation for pushing the boundaries of architecture and design.
BplusU uses 3D digitising technology, rapid prototyping, laser cutters
and CNC routers along with casting, vacuum forming and traditional model
building to visualise their design. The design firm continues to research and
experiment with new building materials and construction techniques using 3D
technology and manufacturing techniques outside the architectural profession.
The brief from the museum was to create an exhibition that would
continuously change over 40 days. BplusU decided to use the Dimension 1200 3D
printer in their office that was otherwise utilised to prototype architectural
designs, to show the actual process of creating, modifying and improving a
design digitally. The team decided to take the process out of the office,
including the 3D printer, and make it the subject of the display during the
The exhibit created by BplusU showed the different steps of production
from printing to dissolving, drying, gluing, finishing and assembling with the whole
process documented and put on display. Requiring minimal involvement from the
BplusU staff, the project used fairly large parts that took three or four days
BplusU has had a Dimension 1200 3D printer in its office for two years. Key
requirements for the 3D printer included ability to use ABS material, affordability,
and sufficient resolution for the pieces that needed to be printed. The printer
was supplied by TekPro Group, a supplier of 3D printers, and rapid prototyping
and laser equipment.
According to Baumgartner, they had the option of outsourcing their physical
prototypes or make them in-house. Since there were obvious cost efficiencies in
making them in-house, they decided to invest in the 3D printer. Apart from reducing
their costs by 50 percent, the new 3D printer allows them to optimise their
designs through constant iterations, which would not be possible if the job was
Since most of the BplusU architectural models need to look finished, the
machine’s ability to sand and finish the pieces was very important. Baumgartner
explains that the part usually goes through priming and painting after it comes
out of the printer. The company was previously using conventional methods, such
as casting, milling and vacuum forming, which were very labour intensive
Architectural models created by BplusU include solid mounting models,
and surface geometry models, which are representations of the outer skin of a
building. Most of their architectural modelling work involves commercial
buildings, and having their own 3D printer enables them to deal with the
A leading manufacturer of 3D printing equipment and materials, Stratasys
helps architectural firms seize more opportunities by creating complex, durable
models in-house, directly from CAD data.