Toronto-based architectural modelling firm, Peter McCann Architectural Models Inc. (PMAMI) chose a Dimension 3D printer to execute a challenging modelling project for Masdar Headquarters, the world’s first large-scale positive energy building located in Abu Dhabi.

PMAMI specialises in replicating some of the world’s tallest and most notable buildings on a one-hundredth scale prior to construction. Architectural modelling requires high-level craftsmanship and attention to detail. Their latest architectural modelling project involved an amorphous shape, which always presented the biggest challenge as it was difficult to model by hand to the required level of precision, according to PMAMI manager Josh Coulas.

Prior to purchasing the Dimension 3D printer, PMAMI steered clear of 3D printing technology because it was not yet capable of producing a product to their standards. Instead, the firm used CNC machines or created parts by hand.

When chosen to construct the architectural model for Masdar Headquarters, PMAMI began the search for a tool that would meet the project’s standards requirements and time constraints.

Coulas was impressed with the Dimension 3D printer, which presented a huge advantage by using ABS plastic over the more conventional powder. He was also happy working with the Dimension reseller Cimetrix. The high resolution and strong outputs of ABS plastic were crucial factors in the printer as PMAMI needed the ability to fuse pieces together, which ABS allowed.

PMAMI was hired by Chicago-based Smith+Gill Architects to create a large model of Masdar Headquarters, the world’s first large-scale positive energy building that generates more energy than it consumes. Masdar City, where Masdar Headquarters is located, is a carbon-neutral, zero-waste development under construction in the southeast corner of Abu Dhabi.

The architecture for the model included multiple helix shapes that needed to be both precise and strong because they were structural. Given a couple of months to complete the project, PMAMI purchased the printer to accomplish the modelling work on time. The 3D printer was used by Coulas and his team to create a dozen conical structural voids supporting a free-flowing roof for the Masdar Headquarters model.

PMAMI has been using the Dimension 3D printer to create anything from miniature furniture to moulds for intricate pieces of the Salt Lake Temple in Utah. Some of the time-saving benefits of the printer include the firm’s ability to create a library of reusable designs. Coulas explains that when they work with repetitive pieces, they simply print one as a mould, cast it and then use the cast to injection-mould the rest, speeding up the process.

Since purchasing the Dimension 3D printer over two years ago, PMAMI has used it on countless projects, and Coulas and his team can’t imagine working without it. He adds that the printer has given them the ability to create unorthodox shapes to an exacting degree of accuracy.

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.