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5 Reasons not to choose the lowest quote for a model or prototype

In today’s world of instant everything from everywhere we can easily fall into the trap of making business decisions just by choosing the lowest price. Here are 5 reasons you should be very worried about the lowest price, especially for a custom model or prototype.

1. Value = quality divided by price.

 You can easily pick the lowest price - just pick the quote with the lowest number.  But if you expect good value, you must spend the time it takes to consider quality. Quality in models and prototypes depends on a number of factors.

Petronas Towers exhibit resized 600

Oil storage site exhibit in Kuala Lumpur

For example if there is a body of water in an architectural or topographic model, how is it depicted? Possibilities range from one color of blue paint to a realistic range of several colors applied artistically under a wavy piece of clear acrylic as shown in the above picture.   The latter looks far more realistic, but costs a little more.

There is reason why “cheap” means both "low cost" and "low quality". It pays to investigate closely how your model or prototype will look or work by carefully comparing the assumptions and details in the quote and each vendor's reputation for quality.

2. Balance: The common law of business balance.

 Over a century ago John Ruskin said “It’s unwise to pay too much…but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money…that is all.  When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot.  It can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run.  And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better.”

3. Avoid wasting money on models and prototypes that are in too small a scale. 

One problem is that parts can become too thin in a small scale and break easily. The client's desire for the smallest possible model to make it easier to transport as well as save money in packing, shipping and initial cost means it is more likely to arrive damaged and maybe even not repairable before the sales presentation or tradeshow.

A second problem is companies that “saved money” by having a model made in a scale that was too small to effectively show the detail especially when it is a printed out on a 3d printer. We refer to these models as "blob" models since instead of seeing the finer details that help attract potential customers you see blobs of material. Request a drawing of the plan and elevation views in the model scale proposed before you buy.  Even better request a sample part that shows some of the finer details.

4. Durability counts.

Is the model you ordered going to arrive as loose parts that came apart during the shipment?

Your model isn’t any good if you can’t use it when it arrived or requires extensive and expensive additional repair. That could be the case if the materials used and the way they were bonded or attached together couldn’t survive the road vibrations, shock from being dropped, temperatures, humidity, poor or loose packing, etc. In transit if the temperature is below freezing acrylic glues don’t hold their bond very well and your acrylic model may come apart. High heat also affects acrylic bonds much sooner that it would ABS plastic.

We use ABS plastic where we can instead of acrylic since ABS can be welded (the surfaces melt together with the chemical liquid we use for bonding). The ABS plastic is also stronger than acrylic which can crack under stress. 

If there is damage you may or may not be able to collect from an insurance claim and it may take a long time to collect for it. If a quote is higher than the low bid it probably is built stronger, with better materials and is packed better to survive shipment.

5. Insurance against an unpleasant surprise.

A benefit of partnering with a high quality model maker is the opportunity to learn and improve the project together.  With their experience and expertise, it is not hard to see potential problems while they can still be addressed successfully and at little or no additional cost. Even if the new approach costs more it is "cheaper" than  paying for a model that may meet your specifications but not your expectations.

Recently a potential museum client sent their project out for bid and all of the bids were higher than their budget. Sometimes if you have a limited budget it is better to tell the model making companies what the budget is and have them let you know what is possible to do with that budget.

When deciding on which company to hire for a model or protoype our experience is that the highest value, rather than the lowest price, is normally the best criterion. In our next blog we'll point out 5 reasons you should be very willing to pay for quaility.

Model Builders, Inc. is known for helping industrial designers, manufacturers, institutions and individuals go from idea to reality. Take the next step by contacting us at Model Builders, Inc., 773-586-6500 or info@modelbuilders.net .

 

Architectural model iterations are often the key to design success

"Iterations: John Ronan's Poetry Foundation" is a 2013-2014 exhibit at the Art Institute in Chicago that shows how he uses a series of sketches, models, and digital designs in his design development of the award winning Poetry Foundation building in Chicago. The sketches and models are used to explore options in the beginning and review them with the client before the final detailed digital design is done. This iterative process helps to give more thoughtful consideration to how the various elements should be integrated together.

Some architectural firms do all of their work digitally on the computer. However with only digital images the client may have trouble visualizing the relationships between elements and how big things really are.

multiple modelsDifferent model iterations of the interior interrelationships

Many architects, like John Ronan, find ideas initially intuitively flow better from the brain to hand sketches. Later they do the digital design for the precision needed to finalize the design.

Ideas were initially shown as hand drawn diagrams and quickly bonded to cardboard. Then various rooms were connected in multiple different configurations so they could be compared in three dimensions to better visualize how the key elements worked together. Should the key elements like the building and the garden be interlocking or overlapping layers? Use of the models helped determine the site plan. Once the site plan was determined then more sketches and models were used to evaluate different iterations of the location of other elements in the building such as the library and reading room. In this particular case the garden became central to the development of the building's program and design.

Poetry Foundation site model

Site model - Poetry Foundation is the tan/green/gray area in the middle

The design at that point was ready to put onto a model that showed the surrounding buildngs. First a satellite image of the site and surrounding buildings was put down. Using cardboard and paper sketches the new design with the surrounding buildings shown in three dimensions was created. This helped to determine that the building design should be anchored with a large entry to the garden at the corner of the property.

Exterior screen wallTwo of several exterior screen walls - the perforated one at the top was chosen

The roofless courtyard garden is separated from the street with a two story screen on two sides at the site perimeter.  Models were made of different screens.  An oxidized black screen with holes was chosen to separate the garden from the sidewalk on the north and east sides. It provides views of the garden from the street while making the garden more private while standing in it. As you walk forward along the building the exterior is all glass which helps to connect the garden to the interior. Inside the building a ribbon of Baltic birch plywood helps to connect the mostly open plan interior rooms.

Presentation modelPresentation model - Basswood, cardboard, and Plexiglas

Here the roof has been removed and in this model there is more interior detail. These models were developed by the architect as part of the design process. Models help the architect to communicate better on design decisions with clients who often don't visualize the design well in three dimensions as it progresses unless they see a three dimensional model. These models help to make sure the client understands exactly how the building will look before it is built with no surprises.

For  information on seeing this exhibit click on http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/iterations-john-ronan-s-poetry-foundation .

Model Builders, Inc. is known for working closely with architects to interpret their design intentions as clearly as possible into a three dimensional model. Take the next step by contacting us at Model Builders, Inc., 773-586-6500 or info@modelbuilders.net .

To make a plant layout model what does the model maker need from you?

To quote and build a plant layout model the model maker needs information from you. With your answers to the following eight questions you can get a quote and timetable for a plant layout model that best meets your requirements.

1) What do you need a model of?

Does the plant model reprsent one product production line, a number of product lines, a distribution center, a process like an oil refinery with multiple buildings, tanks, piping and other structures? Is it an interior model only or does it include the site outside the building?

Plant engineering studies often use a plant layout model to help analyze different equipment configurations and layouts. An existing or proposed facility may be limited in space and determined by an architectural structure. Equipment models, block or detailed, may be used to represent the different types of equipment. The model equipment depictions can be moved around in the facility until the best layout is determined. In office areas plant layout models help determine how to divide office space and show other floor space options.

Many companies use a physical plant layout model in the process of optimizing the entire plant design including electrical, water, hydraulic and HVAC before construction starts. This engineering model provides a three dimensional view of the current design which acts as a focal point for communication among all of the engineers and other personnel involved.  Normally the model pays for itself by reducing or eliminating misunderstandings, omissions and reducing drawing requirements. 

A plant layout model is particularly helpful where there is a lot of complex piping. The piping can be color coded with industry standard colors to make it quicker to understand. If there are errors in the piping drawings they are discovered when a physical model is made and that saves time and money when the real piping is installed.

Plant Layout Searle

Pharmaceutical multi-story interconnected plant layout planning model

Sometimes a plant layout model of a large site is used to explain a process like water treatment to customers or the public so they can more easily visualize all of the buildings and tanks as well as their interrelationship. 

 2) What is the purpose of the model?

 If the model maker knows the purpose of the model you may get suggestions that improve the model to better achieve the purpose. For instance arrows on the equipment or floor may help in clarifying the direction of travel in the production line.

-Production line with arrows

Conveyor direction of travel shown with arrows 

- Are you building a new production line and using the model to figure out an optimal equipment layout?

- Is the plant layout model for production training in a manufacturing plant?

- Is the model to give an overall view of a large production area to show potential customers?

- Is it a focal point for employee quality meetings?

- Is it a plant layout model for planning changes in the production line?

- Perhaps the model is to explain the best design features to your workers, managers or clients.

Let the model maker know the purpose and what is important to highlight on the model.

3) What is the scale?

You may or may not have figured out how big you want the model.  We find it quite helpful if the potential client has already printed out a plan view and some elevation views of the model in the scale they think they want it.  They may find some important details such as control panels, piping or handles are too small in the model scale they originally thought they wanted. We have noticed that a number of clients need to see the printed out views before they can be sure it is in the right scale for their use.

Common scales for plant layout models are 1:48, 1:100 and 1:200.  A lot of model structural parts, materials, architectural parts, vehicles, people, landscape detail, etc. is available in those scales. It often helps to have a scale person(s) or vehicle(s) in the model to make it easier to understand visually the model scale.

If there are railroad tracks in the model it is much less expensive if the model is in a standard railroad hobby scale.  1:87 scale is HO gauge which is the most popular railroad gauge, 1:160 is N gauge. and 1:220 is Z gauge. For larger scales track exists. 1:48 scale is O gauge and 1:24 scale is American gauge. Tracks in a few other large gauges exist. A lot of plant layout models are 1:100 scale which is close enough to HO gauge that HO gauge railroad tracks, railroad cars, vehicles, people and cars are often used in 1:100 scale models.

4) Do  you have drawings and if so in what format?

 Model cost estimates should be based on requirements that are well thought out before the fabrication of the model begins. To get a model quote it is helpful to have at a minimum pdfs or alternatively printouts in the desired model scale with plan and elevation views. A common CAD file format is .dwg or .dxf. but many other common CAD formats can be used. Photographs of the plant and equipment are also quite helpful in determining the quote.

If not available at the quote phase then before model fabrications begins the model maker needs any detailed drawings that may be available.  If you do not have a complete set of drawings it is helpful to provide a list of what is missing. The drawings should also be reviewed prior to giving them to the model maker to be sure that there are no earlier obsolete drawings included or obsolete file types like .CAL files.  We have seen projects where the quote had to be revised by up to 40 percent more because 400 out of about 1,000 drawings were obsolete earlier versions of the same drawing, were not needed to build the model or were missing.

5) Do you need explanatory labels, diagrams or lights?

A control board with labels on the side of the model could also light up specific machines, areas or builidngs in the model. Chase lights could be added to show the flow of a production process. See our earlier blog on a plant layout model with a control board and lights at http://modelbuilders.net/blog/bid/154286/This-waste-water-treatment-plant-layout-model-shows-how-it-works .

6) What type of base do you need? Do you need a clear plastic dust cover? Do you need a shipping crate or case?

Models larger than 4' wide X 8' long are often made on multiple tables that butt up and line up with adjacent tables on one or more sides. If the model  is 4' X 8' or less then often the base is about 4" high wood that frames all four sides. Removable legs or a credenza style base underneath (with or without doors) could be added under the wood framed model.

A clear plastic dust cover is not used very often on a base that is bigger than 4' wide X 8' long. Usually a clear plastic barrier would be put on the sides instead. Although clear acrylic does come in 5' X 10' sheets it tends to bow downward on the top of the dust cover in that size.

Some plant layout models could be 2' X 3' or smaller.  For smaller models a ATA style shipping case could be used if desired. Larger models may need to be shipped in a wood crate, customized packaging or a dedicated van or truck. It is usually best to have the model maker, who knows best where the model might need extra protection or support, produce the shipping container.

7) What is your budget?

The price of a plant  layout model depends on a variety of choices that are to a large measure determined by your budget. The scale of the model, the number of parts, the level of detail and many other factors determine the final price. You can save yourself and the model maker a lot of time by defining a price range or maximum at the start of your conversation. Then discuss which of the choices will reduce or raise the price. Block depicted equipment is less expensive than detailed equipment for example.

Mfg Plant  Block Depicted Equipment resized 600

Block depicted equipment in a manufacturing plant model

There are three major steps in making a plant layout model.  They are design, planning and fabrication. If you have thought through a lot of the design and planning as well as provide drawings, illustrations or pictures, etc. of what you want then the price will be lower than it would otherwise.  

8) Who will the model maker be working with on clarifying the marketing and technical details?

The model maker needs to talk with the person or persons who can provide the best and quickest answers to marketing and technical questions during the planning process. That cuts costs by improving the model maker's ability to prepare an accurate quote at the outset rather than dealing with additional work orders.  If you provide the essential information during the quote process the model maker does not have to add to the quote a figure to research the answers to vague or incomplete information.

The final model is often best if it is a collaborative effort between you and the model maker.  Model Builders, Inc. is known for creative, economical, realistic plant layout  models. Take the next step by contacting us at Model Builders, Inc., 773-586-6500 or info@modelbuilders.net .

 

 

To build a topographic model what does the model maker need from you?

Whether it is called a topographic model, a raised relief model, a terrain model, a stepped model, a site model or a landscape model the model maker who is going to build it needs to get information from you. This blog should help you understand the questions that you can help answer in order to get a quote for a model that best meets your requirements.

1) What is the purpose of the model?

A site model shows buildings and usually roads, parking lots, cars and landscaping.  Landscape architecture models focus on trees, plantings, grasses, any structures, water and any unique landscape features. A topographic model shows shapes, elevations and any features of the surface like a cliff.

Telluride Topographic model resized 600

Telluride historic sites and ski trails model

Maybe the purpose of the model is to show a trail and key stopping points on a site. Maybe the purpose is to show property locations on a resort, a home development site or an office park. The model maker may be able to enhance the model if you share the purpose of the model. 

2) Do you have drawings and if so in what format?

Sometimes clients think that a model maker can work from an illustration of a site. In fact we may be able to.  If necessary we can work from hand drawn contour lines with their elevations printed on the lines. However it will take longer and cost more money to manually do this and the original illustration may not be very accurate. You may also want buildings and roads on the site and that may be hard to do accurately with an illustration.

If the site hasn't changed for a few years we may be able to find the topographic contour lines with their elevation for that site on the web. If it is a large area we sometimes use US Geological Service (USGS) maps or files.

If the topographic data can be sent as a .dwg or .dxf computer file that is the best first step. We can also produce models manually and it helps if you have a set of drawings in the scale of the model.

3) What is the scale?

Determining the maximum length, width and height of the site to be depicted along with its highest point (be it a mountain, a tree, a building or a bridge) is the starting point.

Next consider how big you would like the model to be. If you want 4 city blocks (maybe 800' long X 800' wide total) and the model is 2' X 2' then the scale is 800'/2' = 1:400 or approximately 1/32" = 1'-0".  In that scale a 6' tall person is 6/32" tall or about 1/5 of an inch tall. In  that scale a 40' high tree is 40/32" or 1 & 1/4" high. By comparison a HO Gauge train set scale is a ratio of 1:87. Maybe you want a bigger scale like 1/87 to get much more detail than you would at 1:400. Doll house scale is normally 1:12.  Common scales for commercial buildings are 1:48, 1:100 or 1:200.

The model maker can make practical suggestions but it helps a lot if you have thought out what the scale should be to show area and the level of detail you want. If you want shutters on a house in 1:500 scale you may as well print them out on a piece of paper because that is about how thick they would be in scale. We made a 90" X 90" topographic model at a scale of 1"=5,400'. At that scale we decided to use sand grains to depict the trees and add some dimension.  We painted the trees green.

4) What is the distance between the highest and the lowest elevation?

Knowing this distance helps to determine the thickness and hence the cost of the material like polyurethane foam that the terrain is cut from or in some cases the number of layers of sheets of material need to cut and stack.

5) Do you want to exaggerate the vertical scale? 

Once you get to a smaller scale like 1:1200 or 1"=100' then a topgraphic model may look flatter to the human eye than it would in real life. For a 44 acre hilly site of a 36 hole golf course that was depicted in a 4' X 5' model we exaggerated the vertical scale 1.5 times to make it look more like it does in real life.  For a 4' X 5' model of the mountains in Telluride, CO however, we did not exaggerate the vertical although the model scale was 1:9000.  We did a cross section drawing first of the model and the terrain was so steep it would have looked way too steep to the human eye if we exaggerated the vertical.

6) Do you want a stepped or smooth topography? If stepped how high is the step? 

36 hole golf course resized 600

Contour steps

For detailed landscape planning or for engineering purposes on the site, especially during planning or construction, it may be desirable to show the contour with steps where each elevation line is depicted as a step above or below the next one. Above is a model of 44 acres where a former waste site is being turned into a sports center that includes a 36 hole golf course. Contour lines can, if desired, be added between those on the drawings to show more steps.

A smoothed surface normally means that the model has been sanded to change the steps into a smooth realistic surface. If the architecture of a building is to be emphasized you probably should have a smoothed surface or very thin steps.

7) Do you have a landscape plan?

Maybe your landscape plan is a forest that shows the terrain with tree locations, ponds, and roads on a US Geological Survey Map. Maybe it is a formal garden drawn by an architect with specific plants and flowers.  Maybe it is the layout with terrain of a golf course or ski trails.

 garden 1:500 scale

This garden is 1:500 scale.

The topography may be interesting but the quality of the painting, the landscaping, the realism of the model trees as well as buildings and all the other surface details are what make a great topographic model standout.

On a topographic model of Telluride, CO we suggested to the client that they have us add numbered ski trails and lifts in addtion to the historic sites they had requested. We think that helped to engage many of the model viewers.

8) Do you want to add buildings, roads, rivers, waterfalls, train tracks or anything else like names added to the topography?

 For one 4' X 8" topgraphic model raised railroad tracks helped to define the western border of the model and help to orient the viewer.  For a 1:64,800 model of part of Maine the roads were crucial to orient the viewer. We scribed the roads into the surface to help them stand out in the model. To make the area more interesting we detailed the heaths, bogs, marches and other terrain.

maine terrain

The final model is often best if it is a collaborative effort between you and the model maker.  Model Builders, Inc. is known for creative, economical, realistic topographic models. Take the next step by contacting us at Model Builders, Inc., 773-586-6500 or info@modelbuilders.net .

This waste-water treatment plant layout model shows how it works

The Rock River Water Reclamation District (RRWRD) in Rockford, IL uses this interactive plant layout model to explain to school groups, customers and the public the sequential steps in processing solid and liquid waste as well as generating energy as a by-product of that process.

The model has many advantages.  The viewer can grasp the overall picture in one viewing. The large plant site is reduced to a 6 X 16 foot model (the scale is 1:96). A well designed plant layout model like this one can orient the viewer from any angle and help them draw mental connections among all aspects of the process.

Rather than taking a plant tour of the site with a group, which takes much longer, RRWRD personnel can use the model to explain the various processes to the group and answer questions.

Real water runs through the Rock River shown in the foreground, as well as through four water processing tanks. The aeration tank bubbles. There is also real water in the two Gravity Thickening Tanks. Real water helps to make the model realistic.

water plant layout

A half inch thick clear acrylic barrier on three sides helps to protect the model. Overhead lights that highlight the model are activated by a sensor when anyone approaches the model. The "rocks" on the right above are the back side of a large aquarium stocked with native Illinois fish. "Rocks" arching above over part of the model support a real waterfall that drops into the aquarium.

plant layou model, site model 

The sequential path of each of three processes (liquid, solids, and energy) is clearly shown with chase lights and with colored lines on the control board. The buildings and tanks each have a light come on when their labeled button on the control panel is pressed. Most of the buildings and tanks have an identifying label next to them. All this makes the model useful at any time of the day.

plant layout - control board

The interactive control board highlights the three sequential processes with over 600 blue (liquid), yellow (solid) or red (energy) chase lights. There are also buttons to light up the individual tanks or buildings.  The energy (red chase lights) below is created from the methane gas by-product of the waste processing. 

water plant layout model - energy sequence

Individual buildings and tanks each have a label and a separate light as shown below.

plant layout model pump building

To reinforce the explanation of the water treatment process the RRWRD website has a "just for kids" section that explains what happens to a drop of water.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss plant layout or process models, site models, topographic models or other projects contact us at Model Builders, Inc. 773-586-6500 or info@modelbuilders.net .

 

 

Topographic model interactive shows the story of Telluride's history

This topographic model in the Telluride, Colorado airport draws visitors to historic attractions they may not otherwise visit, including the history museum where it previously was located. Viewers can interact with this popular exhibit to see all the area attractions that may interest them - historic, recreational, or geographic. This touchable fiberglass model is 48" X 50" with 6.5" of relief. The model scale is 1:9000.

Topographic model Telluride

Buttons light up icons for trams (yellow), mines (gold), tunnels (blue), the power house (gray), the mills (red) and other features from different time periods in Telluride's history. A popular walking trail is also shown that goes well up into the mountains and circles back into town. Labels on the model clarify what each attraction is such as Mendota Peak, Coronet Creek, the Origin Trail, Funicular Cable Railroad, Sheridan Vein, etc. 

 Topographic model Telluride

The model also highlights the ski lifts, which are shown using piano wire mounted on metal posts. On the lower left is the Boomerang trail that goes from the ski area back down to the town. This model makes it easy to visualize the ski trail slopes in three dimensions which is far more engaging and useful than a flat ski trail map. It helps skiers decide which trails they may want to ski. The elevation change shown is from 8,660' to 13,580'.

terrain model Telluride

Topographic models are highly effective ways to quickly orient and inform visitors to any area, especially a large area like Telluride with many winter and year-round attractions. They make visitors more comfortable and engaged in their new surroundings, and they bring enthusiastic people to each attraction.

Model Builders, Inc. is known for creative, economical, realistic topographic models. Take the next step by contacting us at Model Builders, Inc., 773-586-6500 or info@modelbuilders.net .

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plant layout models can save time and money

A plant layout model is used as a design tool for arranging machinery, equipment, tool rooms, and the like in the best place to permit the quickest and smoothest production at the least cost. Plant layout models yield savings in construction and training, and they allow people with diverse expertise to collaborate on improvements.

Many engineering/construction companies and their clients use plant layout models to optimize the design and construction of complex plants like an industrial manufacturing facility, a chemical plant, a pharmaceutical plant, an oil refinery (like the one shown below), a food processing plant, or a nuclear plant. For these types of companies a plant layout model often encompasses a series of buildings, tanks, major equipment, and pipes on the site. The model may also have the roof removed from each building to display the machinery, equipment, and work flow inside.

plant layout model, process model

                                       ARAMCO oil refinery

Many manufacturing companies use physical models to plan and optimize the design when adding to an existing facility or modifying the current production layout. In this case plant layout usually refers to the floor layout of machinery, equipment, the shipping department, and the like in one building. Shown below is a pharmaceutical plant model that can be moved to a new location as a single unit. 

plant layout model

This model is built to an exact scale to show piping, fittings, valves, equipment, structures, instrumention and other features that clarify the design. This means that:

  • If there is a mistake in the drawings it will show up in this model, which is much less expensive to fix now before construction begins. The savings from preventing field changes often more than pay for the  model. Especially when there is a maze of piping, a plant layout model eliminates all of the interference problems at the design level.
  • The model can be used as a focal point for planning meetings to visualize how all the elements are interrelated while the plant is under construction and as a training aid once the plant is completed.
  • When subcontract bidders can better visualize interrelationships by reviewing a plant layout model, their bids are lower.

Plant Layout model

The first real engineering process design model was fabricated in 1951 with all of the equipment, piping, and vessels in exact scale. However, building the model was time-consuming since many parts had to be hand formed.  By the 1960's many of the parts needed for plant layout and process models (as well as many parts for architectural models) were being produced as precision-injected plastic molded parts available off the shelf in quantity and in a variety of scales.  This greatly cut the time and cost of fabricating a plant layout model.

The planning and construction savings from using plant layout models as a design tool and the reduced cost of labor and materials to make the model with standardized parts and other modern methods are so great that almost every new plant has been designed with the aid of a plant layout model for several decades.

The approach to layout modeling varies by industry, location and plant. If you would like to have a plant layout model made to facilitate your next design, be sure to work with a model company that has built plant layout models, can show you the results, and is sensitive to your unique requirements. We can do that! Take the next step by contacting us at Model Builders, Inc., 773-586-6500 or info@modelbuilders.net .

                                      

 

5 ways to enhance a topographic model

To engage prospects, decision-makers, and visitors with your project, you can't beat three dimensions - and the more realistic the better.
 
Topographic models show terrain, buildings, geologic features, vegetation, infrastructure, and other elements of a scene on a scale that viewers can relate to. Visitor centers, city planning meetings, historical sites, dramatic presentations, trade show displays  and investor presentations or public disclosure meetings for ski resorts, golf clubs or other real estate development all find great value in topographic models.
 
Whether the model is a sales tool, an educational display or a visitor orientation tool, a realistic topographic model achieves the purpose far better than a less accurate representation or a two dimensional illustration. If seeing is believing then to see realistically is to understand and engage.

Some common methods used to enhance any topographic model are:

1) Craftsmanship

The final look is determined by how well it is made. For a quick-study model, contour layers can be cut out of mat board, basswood or another material and stacked. For high end models, cuting layers out of a solid block of polyurethane foam and then carefully sanding down the layers to create a smooth topography is much more realistic.  For a model that visitors can touch you need durability - achievable by making a positive model, creating a mold from it and then casting the topography in fiberglass.  Shown below is a construction site model that was hand carved out of pink foam sheets and then artistically painted. In planning your project, make certain your model building team has the skill, experience and equipment required for the quality level your project needs.
 
topographic model

2) Attention to Detail

The larger your model becomes the more detail is required to make it appear realistic and the more you need to know about your model maker's expertise and capabilities. But even on smaller models, detailing can make the important features pop.

3) Enhanced Colors

Accurate simulation of colors and the unification of colors with the landscape and site are all important in order to keep the model appearance believable. As the size of the model gets smaller, the finer muted colors become predominant. Exact color matching does much to increase believeability.
 
topographic model
 
4) Textures

Accurate surface patterns and textures must be recreated carefully for a fully realistic impact. Using creative materials that mimic the real landscape is as important as detailed architecture. Realistic texture greatly enhances the credibility and impact of the model. Here sand was embedded in the surface resin to simulate the look of trees in a model scale that is 1" = 1 mile. Without the tree texture the model would look flat and two dimensional. For the road a groove was cut in the surface to give it some dimension.
 
topographic model

5) Multiple Dimensions

Multiple dimensions greatly enhance idea communication and realism. A topographic model can incorporate other model types - for example, buildings with a cutaway view of the interior to show a warehouse or production line. You can place your products on a site to show how different products match up with different topographies or how they can work together on site to speed construction.

These are just a few of the interesting and useful ways to enhance a topographic model. Model Builders, Inc. is known for creative, economical, realistic topographic models. Take the next step by contacting us at Model Builders, Inc., 773-586-6500 or info@modelbuilders.net

5 Reasons to use an architectural model

Architectural models are three dimensional models created to show scale physical images of buildings. Most people have seen architectural models but may never thought about how they could be used to benefit their projects.

Here are 5 uses for architectural models that architects, project managers and sales agents could consider for their buildings.

1. The most common use of an architectural model is to help visualize in three dimensions the scope of a building project and to communicate the layout and spatial interrelationships. Having a model of a project makes it easier for people who may not be able to imagine what a flat two dimensional blue print or illustration looks like in reality.

NMFPrenticeinterior2004DSCN9190

2. An architectural model can be used as a sales tool. This could be for selling a condominium in a new construction project so that potenial buyers can see where their unit would be located. It could also be for people selling tickets in a stadium, arena,auditorium or theater so that the buyers have a better idea of where the seats are.

3. Potential investors and donors are powerfully impacted by a three dimensional model of a construction project. The model makes the project real, inspiring understanding, enthusiasm, and confidence. Models demonstrate that the proposal is serious and the results will be both workable and attractive - qualities that influence the willingness to invest.

architectural models

                                                Shakespeare Globe Centre - London

4. A model is often used as a site map for larger complexes like an airport, convention center, or amusement park to give people a better reference point as to where they are in a complex and how to get to where they want to go. In a large multistory space such as a hotel, hospital or convention center a cutaway model makes it easy to orient oneself and figure out how to get to the desired location.

5. Finally, architectural models are used in the construction permit and approval process. Having a model present at permit meetings allows regulators to see exactly how the project will impact the surrounding area and may make it easier to get necessary approvals.

These are just a few of the interesting and useful ways that models can be used to promote, inform or educate others about a building property. If you would like more information about getting an architectural model done for your project send an email to: info@modelbuilders.net .

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