Digital Craft

This is the website for the book “Digital Craft – 3D printing for Architectural Design”. Here you can find out what’s in the book and find out if its a book for you.

Who the book was written for?

The book was written for anyone involved in the design and development of buildings and who wishes to communicate ideas using physical models. The book assumes no technical knowledge and is not technology specific.

Who wrote the book?

Bryan Ratzlaff was commissioned by Lee 3D to write the book.

Bryan is an Associate at SPPARC Architecture. Before gaining his Masters and the University of Westminster, Bryan spent several years working as an architectural 3D print technician. Bryan originated in Canada and is currently based in London.

Does the book have an agenda?

Yes, the book aims to aid in the production of engaging, functional models. Ultimately the book aspires to point the way for designers to develop their own 3D printing style.

What’s in the book?

The book contains many photographs of models, each chosen to illustrate the subject of the text. The book contains many quotes based on interviews conducted by the author in researching the book.

What’s not in the book?

This is not a technical book, there is little to nothing about different kinds of 3D printers or 3D modelling software.

Part I – The Architectural Model

The first part of the book explores the concept of the architectural model, particularly its use within the design process and as a communication tool. It also looks at the traditional techniques of making and the impact that an applied style has on a model’s identity. It sets out to identify the model’s fabrication as a recognised work of craftsmanship. It is divided into two sections:

The Model & the Design Process
The Model & Techniques of Making

Click to read excerpt from Part I

The model has long held an important position within the realm of architectural representation, being one of the primary instruments that architects have used to communicate their designs. Of the varying modes of representation – drawings, models, photography, film, text or even an architectural object itself – the drawing and the model are the two most familiar with architects and students, used to explore ideas and communicate design decisions. But whereas the drawing can require the viewer’s interpretation in order to make meaning beyond obvious comprehension, the model provides a rather simpler approach and thus a simpler existence.

At the most basic level, a model is a physical device, which translates an architect’s design into a scaled object that can aid communication and understanding. It is a miniature of a building, used for experimentation, validation and conveying design intentions. It is also a craft in its own right. When used for experimentation, the process of creating a scaled model can guide solutions for spatial inefficiencies, which could otherwise not be revealed in the two-dimensional phase of a design process. When used strictly as a tool for validation, the model can be limited by predetermined decisions regarding geometry. In this instance, a model is perhaps less efficient than a drawing, which is very flexible in what it can achieve as mode of representation

Part II – 3D Printing For Architectural Design

This part of the book will explain the nuances and changes that 3D printing has created with representing architecture in model form and explore the ability to approach the technology as an architectural craft. It is divided into three sections:

3D Printing for Architectural Design – an introduction
The 3D Printed Architectural Model
The Digital Modelmaking Process

Click to read excerpt from Part II

On the surface, it may appear that the use of 3D printing for architectural models is simply a development in modelmaking materials; powder, plastics and composites are perhaps only an alternative to wood, paper or card for producing the same device. The materiality of a 3D print is clearly unique, but has the technology in fact had a more profound effect on the architectural model? As with the established materials for modelmaking, 3D printing appears to have found its niche as a medium for design development models, particularly when examining its use as the primary medium of the object. As discussed in the previous chapter, study and process models used in the design process exist for the analysis and verification of ideas, and for communicating design intentions. By their very nature, these models are temporary in use, regardless of their material qualities or level of creative execution. They are not unduly valuable as an object, but are useful in achieving the outcome of the design process, and regardless of their quality of craft, can be considered as a form of output. The use of 3D printing to produce this type of model is therefore an instinctive occurrence, with its ability to produce a printout of a CAD file similar in manner to printing two-dimensional drawings for review.

Part III – Techniques for Stylising 3D Printed Architectural Models

This section includes explorations such as specific abstractions of geometry; the use of physical textures, colour and texture mapping; and the ability to animate models with 3D printed narrative.

Click to read excerpt from Part III

The final part of this research explores various stylistic techniques that can be used in the digital modelling process in order to create more interesting
3D printed architectural models. The examples shown reflect particular types of models where modelling techniques can enhance the style or communicative abilities of the object. It is important to note that many of these techniques are not specific to determined purposes and their concept of style can effectively be applied to various model typologies.
For example, physical textures are used to exemplify the application
of that modelling technique, rather than the specific application of 3-dimensional materials, such as brick.

Buy the book

1 – Buy the book directly from Lee 3D for £6.50 each (+ £3.50 P&P per order) using the Paypal link below
2 – Order the book for £17.50 (inc. P&P) through
3 – Order the book through your local bookstore

Books will be sent Royal Mail second class signed and tracked.