We believe that the best designs begin with drawings by hand. At PPA, We support the efforts of the designers with the latest in 3D technologies to refine and execute the work. Our draftsmen use Autocad software to make 2D CAD drawings from the hand-designed originals. Once they are fully resolved, we use the 2D drawings as the base information for models built with Rhino, Solidworks, and 3DS Max. Occasionally, a builder or their craftsmen sends us computer models as a proof of copy for us to examine before they start making the finished work.
The 3D models can be made into renderings, or 3D prints. We make our renderings to help us and our clients visualize a house or a room at an almost unlimited level of detail. We can show the movement of the sun around a house during the day. We can show an interior with varying arrangements of furniture or of colors painted on the walls. On a country house project in Maine, we assisted the masons by building a computer model of a chimney with transparent walls so they could understand the path of the flues.
Our 3D printer is an Objet Eden 500v. It produces models by printing 16 micron thick layers of acrylic photopolymer. Our 3D prints are unlimited in their complexity – we can even print moving parts already assembled. We have made prints at all scales, from full size door hardware to a 1/8” scale model of an entire house. We have printed doorknob prototypes on the same day they were designed, so a client could check the size, shape, and feel. Our door hardware manufacturers can make hardware in brass by programming their milling machines directly from our 3D model data.
In 2013, PPA hired a dedicated 3D Print Technician, who is the first of his kind at our office. While the software and 3D printing technologies will not supplant the designer’s work by hand, our 3D team aims to stay at the leading edge of computer and printing technologies so we can best support the quality of execution that our clients appreciate and turn our designs into products we can offer to the public.