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We are responsible for the phenomenally popular Chicago Model City on public display at the Chicago Architecture Foundation.  The entire model all 25 feet, by 35 feet, is 3D printed - so, yes, we know about this technology. We bought our first 3D printer in 2002.   

Columbian Models has three 3D printing machines, two Form 2 SLA printers and one Ultimaker 3 Extended. Each has its own input requirements and parameters; creates builds using different processes; and produces a different result. Parts from all machines need to be hand cleaned after fabrication.  Time to complete this task depends on the complexity of the part.  All types of parts can be painted with varying levels of hand finishing required.  Generally the Form 2 printers provide the faster prints at the best quality which is why we purchased 2.

Form 2 SLA printer  2 prints a 0.001” (0.025mm) thick layer and uses lasers to solidify acrylic resin, each layer fused onto the layer before it. (Stereolithography) Form 2 parts can be clear or white or painted the color of your choice. This is the highest level of surface finish of all our machines. A lattice of support material is generated by the machine from the same acrylic material, so generally the parts are easy to clean and finish than other 3D printing technologies.


Maximum part size: 5.7 by 5.7 by 6.9 tall (145 mm x 145 mm x 175mm tall)
Smallest relief detail: 0.015” (0.38 mm)
Smallest detail thickness: 0.03” (0.76 mm)
Smallest part: 0.5” (12.7 mm)
Freestanding wall thicknesses should be at least 0.045" (1.14 mm) thick.
Larger objects must be at least 0.07’’ (1.78 mm).

The Ultimaker 3 Extended lays down a melted bead of ABS plastic. Each new layer is put on top of the layer beneath. (FDM) This machine does not provide as much detail as the Form2. The build texture can be used to model roof shingling and other building materials. This machine has dual extruders so the part can be created with wash away support which allows for more detailed parts. 


Maximum layer resolution is .02 mm (.00078).
Maximum part size: 8.4” x 8.4” x 11.9” (213 mm x 213 mm x 302 mm tall)Smallest relief detail: 0.015” (0.38 mm)Smallest detail: 0.045" (1.14 mm)
Smallest part: 1.0” (25.4 mm)
Freestanding wall thicknesses should be at least 0.0625" (1.59 mm) thick. Larger objects must be at least 0.125’’ (3 mm).

The Ultimaker 3 Extender is slow but has a significantly larger build area than the Form2. It can build a part which is 8.4” by 8.4” by 11.9” while the Form 2 is limited to 5.7” by 5.7”by 6.9”. We can chop your stl files in pieces to fit into our beds. Seam will show when reassembled. These can be minimized with hand finishing.