On a regular basis we have people and companies from around Australia approach us to 3D print scale models of their buildings, developments and projects. The results are very impressive and we often get positive feedback from our clients including hotel developers in Brisbane pitching to investors, apartment planners in Sydney looking to better understand their space and an Architect in Melbourne who uses 3D Printing to show clients his plans and drawings. However there is usually more preparation that goes into these models than most but done properly you’ll be wowing your audience and giving them a real foundation to see the projects potential .

Below we’ll run through common issues and how to get a well priced robust model from your current full scale (1:1) CAD models.



The first step taken is usually for you to internally decide on a budget, as downstream this will affect the size of the models and therefore to what degree the files may need to be adjusted to account for small details.

As a guideline on 3D Printing costs:

  • A building printed at a size of 360 x 300 x 300mm will cost between $2,400 to $8,900 + GST
  • A building printed at a size 0f 250 x 200 x 200mm will cost between $1,200 to $2,700 + GST
  • A building printed at a size 0f 150 x 100 x 100mm will cost between $180 and $420 + GST

The reason for the variation in cost depends mainly on how much material your part will use, how much machine space it occupies and how risky it is to print. The larger the part the more this has an effect.

You can optimise the cost with the following techniques :

  • Hollow your building and any other thick enclosed parts out and remove the base, so you end up with a ‘shell’ of the buildings. This significantly reduces the amount of material used and therefore the cost.
  • Nest parts of the building in your file if possible.
Large ISO
Large ISO Shell


With a budget in mind we can work out how to get the largest scale for your structure whilst coming in at/under cost. The size is one of the most important factors and is influenced by price, however other considerations are detail sizes, maximum printable size, orientation and likeliness to warp/deform due to thermal stress.

Min. Detail Sizes

In almost all architectural jobs we’ve done the original files need to be modified to account for details that become too small to print when scaled down from the full size. Anything under 1mm at printed size has a risk of being broken during the cleaning of the parts, so if something is 10mm thick full scale then at 1:10 scale it will be 1mm which is fine, though at 1:20, 1:100, 1:200 etc scale then this becomes undersize. The common workarounds to this are either to remove it all-together if they are ‘nice to have’ but not ‘need to have’ details, or to thicken/exaggerate the details at full size so that when they are scaled down they are thick enough to print.

Particular features to keep an eye on are stairs, balustrades and railings, pipes, windows etc.

Max. Printable Size

The largest we can print in one go is 340 x 340 x 580mm so the model will either need to be smaller than that or split into sections. If you are wanting to do a development for example try splitting it into lots.



If a part is too large to print in one piece it’ll need to be sectioned into smaller pieces which can be printed and assembled afterwards.

It’s best to try avoid cutting the part on a uniform section where a join line will be obvious, aim to cut it somewhere more obscure or somewhere that will be covered by something else.

Shelling a model is an important step in aiding it’s printability, it will also help reduce cost. The idea of shelling something is basically to preserve the outward appearance of the building etc, though inside is completely hollow and featureless. If you do want interior detail like rooms, fittings, furniture etc then you can include this and an alternative is to have the roof separate so that you are not trapping large quantities of loose powder inside.

House Seperated

form•Z free is proving exceptionally effective for beginning fabrication students



form•Z free is proving exceptionally effective for beginning fabrication students

When we were considering the introduction of form•Z free as a reduced version of form•Z, our expectation was that it would popularize 3D modeling even among lower and middle school students. To our delight it is working great as a general introductory modeler and it is proving especially effective in the newly popular area of digital fabrication. Here is the story at one of the highly ranked design schools.

See full reprint here

form•Z has been an integral part of the design curriculum at The Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) for many years. Professor Brad Jirka recently provided very insightful feedback on how MCAD has integrated form•Z. Using two levels of form•Z applications, form•Zquickly and seamlessly produces exceptional results with the latest fabrication and 3D printing technology.

Click Here for more details. 


Webinar: Generative design tools in form·Z Friday October 9, 1:00pm-2:00pm EDT (17:00-18:00 GMT)

Add a new unique twist to your 3D design using the generative tools in form•Z as we demonstrate the Voronoi diagram, Delaunay triangulation, point scatter, surface scatter, volume scatter, wrap and parametric map modeling tools. These tools have practical and theoretical applications in a large number of science and technology fields and have very desirable artistic characteristics.

We’ll see how they can be used together along with other form•Z tools to generate complex organic forms and design structures in a fun and intuitive way. You’ll also see how these forms are fabrication ready such as 3D printing. Any design professional who wants to enhance their design to include a variety of spawning, scattering, cell diagram and parametric map based form generation will be interested in this topic.

image2 image2

form·Z Online Training Online training classes are a great way to learn form•Z from the convenience of your computer. Online sessions follow a structured class plan and often include downloadable guides and sample files that complement the training. Class sizes are limited to keep the course moving and make sure that everyone is able to follow the presentation. Most classes have Q & A time block at the end to allow for specific questions and feedback. Classes are conducted at a variety of times and and cover a variety of subjects. image2

Trial versions of form·Z Try form•Z pro 8.5 or form•Z jr 8.5 for 30 days for free! These trial versions are fully featured software including an unlimited number of saves and the ability to import and export from any of the supported file formats.


A trial version of the RenderZone photo-realistic rendering plugin is also included! ( for commercial use see here )


form·Z Student Edition The form•Z Student Edition is free for students and faculty for academic use.


3D printing strategies


3D printing strategies

3D printing strategies

Sixty per cent of organisations believe high start-up costs are a main factor in the delay of implementing 3D printing strategies, according to a new survey by Gartner.

However, the survey also found that early adopters of the technology are finding clear benefits in multiple areas.

“3D printing has broad appeal to a wide range of businesses and early adopter consumers, and while the technology is already in use across a wide range of manufacturing verticals from medical to aerospace, costs remain the primary concern for buyers,” says Pete Basiliere, research director, Gartner.

“3D printer vendors must work closely with their clients to identify potential applications of the technology that may have been overlooked, and improve the cost-benefit ratios of their products.

“Organisations that wish to experiment with the technology without incurring start-up costs should consider partnering with a local 3D printing service bureau.”

Smart Technology offers 3D design software experience for 3D prototyping, conceptualisation and ‘Ideation’. We provide a range of 3D printers from A$695 and a bureau service for providing 3D Prints from designed models.

We also have access to high end Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) units for faster, high quality larger builds.

Elite SLS 3D Printer

Contact us for more details on installing 3D Printing or bureau services +61 2 9939 4000 or go to

The survey also reveals that while prototyping, product innovation and development are the main uses of 3D printing, the technology is also being used extensively in manufacturing applications.


3D printing strategies Chart

formZ Subd surfaces and 3D Printing


formZ Subd surfaces and 3D Printing make a difference


formZ Subd surfaces and 3D Printing

Below is a webinar that demonstrates the power of formZ Subd surfaces and 3D Printing capabilities by walking you through a series of actual 3D printed projects modeled exclusively with subdivision tools and features. formZ is a unique 3D modelling tool with support for solid, surface, NURBS suffices and now Subd’s. It also offers an easy to use toolset and display that is available for both Mac OSX 7+ and Windows 7 /8 computers.

In this session you’ll experience:
• Powerful subdivision modeling and how it can be used in your project workflow.
• Seamless conversion of subdivision models to NURBS or Quad Meshes.
• How the inherent quad mesh personality of subdivision objects lends itself perfectly to 3D Printing.
• How converting your subdivision models to NURBS adds an additional layer of flexibility to your design capabilites.
• The advantage of minimal time involved with analyzing and prepping the model for 3D printing due to the subdivision personality.


formZ Pro 8 is available now from Smarttec or call +61 (0)2 9939 4000





Subdivision modelling and 3D printing

COFA changes name to UNSW Art and Design


Screenshot 2014-10-07 08.57.09


COFA changes name to UNSW Art and Design

in a special ceremony on September 30 hosted by dignitaries inlcuding Chancellor & Vice Chancellor, a new stage in the long history of this fine school.

During the first week of Semester break and between September 29 to October 1 2014 – Smart Technology provided a succesful 3 day training workshop at the new campus of UNSW Art & Design ( formerly known as COFA ).

Hosted in the new facilities and organised by Petra Svoboda we provided ‘in depth’ training on the latest formZ Pro 8 SE software for 3D modelling, rendering and 3D Printing by Matthew Holewinski a Technical Consultant with AutoDesSys Inc. Matthew has been involved with 3D modeling, rendering, and animation for 20 years in a variety of disciplines including architecture, product design, mechanical engineering, historical recreations, museums, art and nature.

After 3 days of methodical and practical review all attendees were able to extend their knowledge and skills in the powerful 3D modelling tool used for 3D design and most were producing interesting models for 3D printing.


COFA Group


Our 3 day formZ Pro 8 experts – UNSW Design & Art Technical Support team and trainer Matt Holewinski (1st LHS. )

Many learnt in the tasks how to model unique shapes including using the new easier to model ‘Subdiv surfaces’ included in formZ Pro 8


Screenshot 2014-10-07 09.16.14
Early stage jug design from basic polygon shape using subdiv surface tool.

UPBox new bigger and better UP 3D Printer


Friday Sept 19 – Announced that in  few weeks the addition of  a new 3D Printer to our existing range with the Upbox new bigger and better UP 3D Printer  offering significant improvements in the ease of use, production throughput, accuracy and build size.

UPBox new bigger and better UP 3D Printer

This uncompromising new addition to the range adds:

larger build area: 255 x 205 x 205mm

30 % increase in print speed over UP Series 2

improved print accuracy with prints down to 100 micron (0.1mm )

new enclosed heat chamber with air filtration

Pricing $2,695 + $87 delivery + GST

Availability June 2015


Watch this space for new details, pricing on release and availability including offers with the latest formZ PRO 8 software

New 3D Up Printer

While this unit adds a new level of productivity and ease of use the existing 3D Up Series II printer that has recently seen a significant price drop – ( 3D Up Series II only $1,795 + dely  ) remains a well tested and reliable fast FDM Printer ( Fusion Deposition Printer )

The new model adds a step up in size, quality and speed of build at a price that will be similar to the original 3D UP Printer.







Low cost 3D Printing



Low Cost 3D Printing – 3D UP Mini creates a new price entry

The 3D Up mini printer has created a new low price in allowing the entry of easy to start and quality 3D Printing now reduced from $1,000 to the new low price of $755.00 (plus GST & delivery)

The 3D Up Mini Printer is an easy to use yet high quality Fusion Deposition Printer ( FTP ) capable of creating high quality ABS plastic parts up to 120 x 120 x 120mm in size an down to 0.2mm resolution from it’s own Mac/Win software that allows import in .stl format and provides for accurate production and intelligent support structures for any 3D designed software.

Included with the package is the powerful 3D design software formZ 3D FREE modelling software which is upgradable from the basic software package to the new formZ Junior or formZ Pro software

Up Mini Review by Techlife
UP Mini 3D Review Youtube video












NMA 3D Printer & 3D design software


NMW14 Exhibitor Signature

NMA 3D Printer & 3D design software

For all of those people who are visiting the National Manufacturing Exhibition this week at Homebush:   We are offering great new specials : formz

formZ v7 ( with formZ 8 upgrade )

Powerful modelling tools for less than $1,200.00 and add RenderZone for only $400 and get fully texture mapping, amazing photorealistic rendering and animation.

  • A powerful design tool for all the fields that deal with the articulation of 3D forms and spaces, formZ 7 facilitates the development and execution of projects from conception to complete detailed structures, animated, and automatically fabricated.
  • Design directly in 3D or in 2D, using numeric or interactive graphic input through either line or smooth shaded drawings (OpenGL 3.2), slipping effortlessly back and forth among drafting, modelling, rendering, and animation.
  • Grow a model from simple lines to complex surfaces or to true solids with a few quick clicks.
  • Boolean solids to generate complex composite objects.
  • Create curved surfaces from a variety of splines, including NURBS and Bezier/Coons patches and now Sub Division Surface tools (in v8).
  • Dynamically sculpt and reshape objects using a variety of deformations to twist, bulge, or bend them, as you move seamlessly between 2D and 3D views.
  • Resize, stretch, extrude, lathe, sweep, project, unfold, deform, round objects in few simple steps
  • Create mechanical or organic forms using  nurbz, patches, subdivisions, displacements, or skinning.
  • Terrain models, Platonic solids, geodesic spheres, double line wall objects, stair cases, helixes, screws, and bolts are at your fingertips.
  • Add as many hierarchical layers as you need and work with floating point precision.
  • Refine the design with double precision CAD accuracy to full structural detail for 3D visualisation, for the production of 2D construction drawings, 3D printing, rapid prototyping, and CNC milling.
  • Scripting and plug-in capabilities allow further customisation for individual needs.
  • The interface is fully customisable.
  • formZ 7 MovieZ support dynamic methods for transforming and morphing 3D shapes and allow the production of both animated visualisations of scenes and the capture of 3D shapes as they morph into other forms, introducing modelling methods that explore 3D forms significantly beyond traditional means.
  • Information management of bills of materials and spreadsheet support for construction documents.
  • Support for DWG and DXF to facilitate import/export to and from AutoCAD
  • Extensive interoperability of formZ 7 with other complementary applications through 20+ translators.



bonzai3D v3

great 3D modeller ONLY $598.00 and add RenderZone for only $400 and get fully texture mapping, amazing photorealistic rendering. the easy alternative for accurate 3D solid & surface modelling for 3D Printers, conceptual design.

  • Fluid, powerful, and smart interface
  • Smart 3D drawing
  • All the classic modeling tools
  • Real time Booleans
  • NURBS curves and surfaces
  • NURBS blending
  • Dynamic graphic editing
  • Reshape tool makes sculpting easy
  • Advanced OpenGL rendering
  • Shadows, transparencies, and textures
  • 3D Dimensioning
  • bonzai3d 3.0 components can be placed in libraries and used like symbols in formZ
  • Graphic texture map editing
  • Over 200 materials (texture maps)
  • Content library for trees, furniture, doors, and windows
  • Support of 3D Warehouse
  • Google Earth and SketchUp file compatibility
  • Over 20 export/import formats for easy interoperability
  • Piranesi export (2D import/export)
  • Support for 3D printing and fabrication
  • Embedded video tutorials

3D Printer Specials   3D Up Printer 2

Learn about our UP range of Desktop 3D Printers are easy to use and affordable. Using additive manufacturing technology to lay down successive layers of ABS to build up a printed three dimensional model. No more long waits to send your design concepts to a 3D print bureau or risk giving away your ideas. 3D Print whatever you want, whenever you want and as any times as you want.

The UP series 3D printers are assembled and ready to go out of the box and you’ll be printing models in 15 minutes.

3D Up Printer 2 only $ 1,950 ex tax

Trade-In Your Old 3D Printer Dead Or Alive and get 35% Off The New UP Plus 2

Welcome to the next gen of 3D Printing. The New UP Plus 2 3D Printer features automatic levelling and automatic platform height setup, improved print speed by around 30%, easier print platform replacement. Wining best 3D Printer two years in a row and received glowing reviews from industry experts.

The new 3D UP ticks all the right boxes!

So how does the Trade-in work?

  1. Donate your old working or non-working 3D Printer to approved Hackerspace, Fablab or Makerspace here or let your local space know about the program.
  3. Package up your old 3d printer and send it your local approved Hackerpace/Fablab.
  4. Once received, then we will send you the coupon to claim 35% off the purchase off the New UP Plus 2 3D Printer.

Still Have Questions?

 Ask Robert Keeping

3D Up Printer modelling with formZ


formZ plays its part in modelling for 3D UP Printer

Using the 3D Up Printer modelling with formZ  to create an aquarium light fixture (not quite finished). I’ve tried this with SketchUp and there is literally no way to do this in SU without spending at least 3X the number of hours– and then still there are *severe* worflow issues (I’m much better at SketchUp than FormZ).

I used to think the 3D printing revolution was somewhat of an overblown hype for hobbyists. I’m now on my 3rd 3D Printer (2 Cubify Cubes and the superb 3D Up Printer). and I am also following this ‘hobby’ closely– and I have to say this is real. I predict 2014 is the year where 3D Printing starts to go mainstream (HP is now in the game) and there is STILL no affordable and easy to use solid modeler that everyone uses. And I *really* believe FormZ/Bonzai3D can *BE* that tool. But, the time is NOW. There is such a limited amount of tutorials for FormZ 7 as well as there’s virtually NO ‘buzz’ about it in the 3D Printing industry.

I believe Autodessys should really focus on this new industry, along with detailed 3D printing tutes including vids, books, e-books etc..and please charge for them if you want to. If I just shelled out 1.5K for a printer, I don’t mind paying $35 for a video series or PDF. Listen, SketchUp has done much of the work for you– they have gotten folks used to PUSH/PULL modeling and the concept 3D doesn’t have to be hard– and there are ‘SketchUp’ settings in FormZ (I use them) for shortcuts and mouse movements– so you don’t have to do the heavy lifting of communicating what you do. SU users are a nice vertical which is easy to market to (I know you already advertise on Sketchucation). Also, the 3D hobbyist market is also currently a vertical and easy to market to. Just the fact you can create a plastic nut and bolt in a few easy clicks is amazing to all the other programs out there.

Frankly, I’m surprised Solidworks and Pro-E haven’t already seized on this. If they don’t fix this they are doomed to be the Quark Xpress of their generation as more and more affordable 3D solid modelers start to improve. Just my thoughts..

Here’s what I’m working on..

formz model for 3D Up Printer

(Message edited by Chipp Walters on December 28, 2013 on formZ forum)

Repairing bad geometry (.stl) using formZ


Repairing bad geometry (.stl) using formZ from other 3D programs such as Sketchup Pro

Repairing bad geometry (.stl) using formZ
formZ 7 Object Doctor tool

in formZ 7  there is a powerful and seldom understood tool that can fix a myriad of 3D model issues

Tips for repairing bad geometry (.stl) using formz include using the Object Doctor to find and fix problems, and other manual methods to surgically repair objects so they can be 3d Printed, Booleaned, and more…


Below is the link to a forum article that discusses clearly how one might use the ‘Object Doctor tool in formZ 7’ to find any issues in any 3D model imported (>13 file formats) into or created in formZ. Once discovered it shows you how you might repair these incosnistancies for proper printing using your 3D Up Printer.