View Full Version : Architectural Models

Keith Outten
11-07-2003, 7:14 AM
I'm interested in trying my hand at building architectural models. If I can obtain CAD drawings from an Architectural design firm what types of materials are normally used for the construction of models?

Obviously thin wood or acrylic for walls and structural items, what other materials are normally used that I might overlook?

I would be using a laser engraver and a scroll saw to do the cutting and I have a wood lathe for the round work. I also have metal working capability as I own an SB9 metal lathe and a small mill/drill.

Does anyone have experience building architectural models?

Pete Lamberty
11-07-2003, 9:34 AM
Hi Keith, I have been taking some architecture classes at the local community college and we have used a few different materials. Chip board, heavy Bristol board, and also thin wood that you can get at hobby stores. I have seen professionally made models and I am sure that they aren't using what we use at school. I just don't know what it is that they use. Sorry I can't be of more help. Pete

Daniel Rabinovitz
11-07-2003, 11:27 AM
I think that foam core in different thicknesses are used
I use both the white (with white edges) and black (with black edges), for mounting photographs.

John Esberg
08-23-2006, 5:14 PM
I'm curious, have you had any luck at making architectural models? Any business?


Joe Pelonio
08-23-2006, 5:59 PM
I used to get PVC lettering from a company that mainly did the architectural modeling, and they used sintra (pvc) almost exclusively.
They were a CNC shop and used PVC cement to glue them up. I saw many of them and they were all painted the correct colors and they got a LOT of money for them. Much of their work was for Boeing back when they were doing a lot of building, but as Boeing work slowed down they sold their equipment and went out of business. (don't depend on just one big customer)

I've done a few but mainly for college students. I've used 1/8" acrylic, basswood, and a heavy posterboard-like product, about 3 times the thickness of the standard Crescent 14 ply (customer provided). I imagine that 1/8" MDF and masonite would work too.

From my experience there is a big learning curve in getting them to supply decent artwork. You'll get cad vector files with open points, and mulitple lines on top of each other. Most will have a curve overlap when it intersects a line, it cuts fine but wastes time and machine time to cut all those extra bits. Hopefully working architects do better.

I am no help on putting them together, as far as glue etc., as I only did the cutting.

Rodne Gold
08-24-2006, 1:21 AM
The main materials used are card , abs and cast or extruded acrylic. the cutting is easy from cad plans if they are simplified , the construction is difficult especially if the clients demand a fair amount of realism.
We use digital printing as well to do this , for example we would cut windows and print reflections of the sky and apply it to the windows. You have to also be inventive , like making trees out of cotton wool and toothpicks etc. Theres big money in this , a 2m x 1m model of a big resedential development can easily run to $30-50 000
Heres a pic of a model we made.
Sorry its not a high detail pic