Integrating 3D Printing Technologies into Architectural Education as Design Tools

Hemza Boumaraf, Mehmet İnceoğlu


3D printing technology offers the chance to produce very small-scale, complex forms that could help to improve educational materials for architectural design. In this age of technological advances, architectural education needs to integrate modern teaching methods that could enhance students’ visual perception. This research thus examined the impact of computational design modeling and 3D printing technology on the spatial cognition of architecture students. It starts with the premise that the use of the 3D printed models will support design logic and improve the deep understanding of spatial perception among students. Thirty architecture students were asked about a designed project realized for the purpose of this study. They were presented both a project designed via computer modeling software and a printed model of the same project. The outcomes indicate that the use of 3D printing gave better results in the development of students’ spatial abilities. The findings also confirm that adopting this technology in the development of teaching tools will enhance students’ spatial perception and extend beyond the seamless materialization of the digital model which can continuously inform design ideation through emerging perception qualities.


3D Printing; Computing Design; Spatial Perception; Visualization; Architectural Education.


Stoter, J., Brink, L. v/d, Vosselman, G., Goos, J., Zlatanova, S., Verbree E., Klooster, R., Berlo, L. van, Vestjens, G., Reuvers, M. and Thorn, S, “A generic approach for 3D SDI in the Netherlands”, In: Proceedings of the Joint ISPRS Workshop on 3D City Modelling&Applications and the 6th 3D GeoInfo Conference, (2011), Wuhan, China.

Zlatanova, Sisi, Laure Itard, Mahmud Shahrear Kibria, and Machiel Van Dorst. "A user requirements study of digital 3D models for urban renewal." open house international 35, no. 3 (2010): 37-46.

Rapidtoday. GIS 3d Printing Made Easier with Software (2012). Available online: (accessed on 10 December 2018).

Z Corporation. ”3D Printing Technology: Fast, Affordable and Uniquely Versatile”. 2st edition. Rock Hill: USA, Z Corp privet company, (2005).

Karlgraad, R. 3D printing will revive American manufacturing. Forbes,. Available online: (accessed on 19 December 2018).

Rayna, Thierry, Ludmila Striukova, and John Darlington. “Co-Creation and User Innovation: The Role of Online 3D Printing Platforms.” Journal of Engineering and Technology Management 37 (July 2015): 90–102. doi:10.1016/j.jengtecman.2015.07.002.

Kostakis, Vasilis, Vasilis Niaros, and Christos Giotitsas. “Open Source 3D Printing as a Means of Learning: An Educational Experiment in Two High Schools in Greece.” Telematics and Informatics 32, no. 1 (February 2015): 118–128. doi:10.1016/j.tele.2014.05.001.

Kostakis, Vasilis, and Marios Papachristou. “Commons-Based Peer Production and Digital Fabrication: The Case of a RepRap-Based, Lego-Built 3D Printing-Milling Machine.” Telematics and Informatics 31, no. 3 (August 2014): 434–443. doi:10.1016/j.tele.2013.09.006.

Kolarevic, B and Klinger, K, Manufacturing Material Effects. Rethinking Design and Making in Architecture (2008), Routledge, 1st edition. New York.

Khorram Niaki, Mojtaba, and Fabio Nonino. “Additive Manufacturing Management: a Review and Future Research Agenda.” International Journal of Production Research 55, no. 5 (September 2, 2016): 1419–1439. doi:10.1080/00207543.2016.1229064.

Huang, Tien-Chi, and Chun-Yu Lin. “From 3D Modeling to 3D Printing: Development of a Differentiated Spatial Ability Teaching Model.” Telematics and Informatics 34, no. 2 (May 2017): 604–613. doi:10.1016/j.tele.2016.10.005.

Baynes, S., and M. Steele. "3D Printing and the Construction Industry." Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) 3 (2015).

Mellor, Stephen, Liang Hao, and David Zhang. “Additive Manufacturing: A Framework for Implementation.” International Journal of Production Economics 149 (March 2014): 194–201. doi:10.1016/j.ijpe.2013.07.008.

Menges, Achim, Tobias Schwinn, and Oliver David Krieg. “Advancing Wood Architecture.” Edited by Achim Menges, Tobias Schwinn, and Oliver David Krieg (July 22, 2016). doi:10.4324/9781315678825.

Wohlers, TT. Wohlers Report: 3d printing and additive manufacturing state of the industry, Wohlers Associates, Fort Collins (2017). ISBN 978-0-9913332-5-7.

Papadopoulou, AP, Laucks, JL and Tibbits, ST. General Principles for Programming Material, in Tibbits, ST (eds), Active Matter (2017), MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 125-142.

Berman, Barry. “3-D Printing: The New Industrial Revolution.” Business Horizons 55, no. 2 (March 2012): 155–162. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2011.11.003.

Oropallo, William, and Les A. Piegl. “Ten Challenges in 3D Printing.” Engineering with Computers 32, no. 1 (June 12, 2015): 135–148. doi:10.1007/s00366-015-0407-0.

Casas, Lluís, and Eugènia Estop. “Virtual and Printed 3D Models for Teaching Crystal Symmetry and Point Groups.” Journal of Chemical Education 92, no. 8 (May 5, 2015): 1338–1343. doi:10.1021/acs.jchemed.5b00147.

European Commission. Additive Manufacturing in FP7 and Horizon 2020: Report from the EC Workshop on Additive Manufacturing (2014), Brussels, Belgium.

P. McGahern, F. Bosch, D. Poli, “Enhancing Learning Using 3D Printing.” The American Biology Teacher 77, no. 5 (May 2015): 376–377. doi:10.1525/abt.2015.77.5.9.

Buehler, Erin, Shaun K. Kane, and Amy Hurst. “ABC and 3D.” Proceedings of the 16th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers & Accessibility - ASSETS ’14 (2014). doi:10.1145/2661334.2661365.

Kwon, Oh Nam. “Fostering Spatial Visualization Ability through Web-Based Virtual-Reality Program and Paper-Based Program.” Lecture Notes in Computer Science (2003): 701–706. doi:10.1007/3-540-45036-x_78.

Woolf, B., Romoser, M., Bergeron, D., & Fisher, D. “Tutoring 3-dimensional visual skills: Dynamic adaptation to cognitive level”. In Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education, Sydney, Australia, (2003).

Norman, Kent L. “Spatial Visualization—A Gateway to Computer-Based Technology.” Journal of Special Education Technology 12, no. 3 (March 1994): 195–206. doi:10.1177/016264349401200303.

Ngo, Tuan D., Alireza Kashani, Gabriele Imbalzano, Kate T.Q. Nguyen, and David Hui. “Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing): A Review of Materials, Methods, Applications and Challenges.” Composites Part B: Engineering 143 (June 2018): 172–196. doi:10.1016/j.compositesb.2018.02.012.

Ford, Simon, and Tim Minshall. “Invited Review Article: Where and How 3D Printing Is Used in Teaching and Education.” Additive Manufacturing 25 (January 2019): 131–150. doi:10.1016/j.addma.2018.10.028.

Katsioloudis, Petros, Vukica Jovanovic, and Mildred Jones. “A Comparative Analysis of Spatial Visualization Ability and Drafting Models for Industrial and Technology Education Students.” Journal of Technology Education 26, no. 1 (September 1, 2014): 88–101. doi:10.21061/jte.v26i1.a.6.

Morán, Samuel, Ramón Rubio, Ramón Gallego, Javier Suárez, and Santiago Martín. “Proposal of Interactive Applications to Enhance Student’s Spatial Perception.” Computers & Education 50, no. 3 (April 2008): 772–786. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2006.08.009.

Passig, David, David Tzuriel, and Ganit Eshel-Kedmi. "Improving children's cognitive modifiability by dynamic assessment in 3D Immersive Virtual Reality environments." Computers & Education 95 (2016): 296-308. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2016.01.009.

Full Text: PDF

DOI: 10.28991/esj-2020-01211


Copyright (c) 2020 HEMZA BOUMARAF, Mehmet İNCEOĞLU