The scenario of 3D printing for model making

modellismo stampa 3d

Before 3D printing or in any case before the boom of 3D printers, the models were made either by milling or even using an older technique like building a wooden skeleton (ribs which were nothing more than the master sections) on which the planking was applied, a thin wood covering that followed the shape of the skeleton longitudinally,  in short a long and painstaking work.

3D printers have existed (on an industrial level) since the end of the 90’s, but they had prohibitive costs for the most, although some pioneers were already there and some (very expensive) models were made. Only in the last decade the 3D printers market development  has favored the interweaving between the two worlds: 3D printing for modeling.

What problems does 3D printing solve?

Sea Falcon model by MATERIA

There are many difficulties in making and maintaining  the accuracy and the precision of some very complex models.

We can begin to mention the “human” commitment in terms of working hours, necessary to create the main structures and all the components of the models, a factor that is sometimes prohibitive. Furthermore, the shapes could not be accurate because they were too complex to be made by hand. Another limit was the weight. The models had a considerable weight whether they were made with milling or with the planking technique.

Another recurring problem was breakages due to heat: the models are exposed under the sun in plexiglass cases during the faire, which, for the most part, are in the hot months (September), therefore unfavorable conditions are created for those materials that do not have suitable characteristics for the environment.

The advantages of using a 3D printer for model making

3D printing solves some of the limitations of manual manufacturing and it opens the door to new possibilities that were not previously considered.

The time necessary for the realization is shorter but these advantages are not among the main ones. The post production takes time on FDM printed parts, even if they are printed at very narrow layers.

The main advantages are in the freedom of form: the domotic models have many wiring to be made and thanks to the WASP technology they can be designed in advance and they pass directly into the molded piece, with channels and slots made before, an unthinkable possibility for traditional manufacturing. Furthermore, thanks to the materials used in 3D printing and thanks to the potentiality to adjust the “infill” of the pieces, it is really possible to think freely.

Another important plus is being able to predict the division of the various pieces into the CAD. The good  division  choice allows a much more precise lacquering.

“We used to divide objects according to their color, i.e. on a black and white piece we do not want to see the slightly smudged masking, on the contrary a nice clean line which gives a vision of clean unity”, says Riccardo Suriano, CEO of MATERIA.

To solve the problem of breakages, not only do we use technical materials that can withdraw high temperatures,  but the pieces are completely removable too. The least possible quantity of glue is used, preferring the joints, a system that 3d printing allows you to do without manufacturing problems.

Using a 3D printer for model making allows you to create modular models so that  you can only work on the piece that needs maintenance and / or repair both in case of  hull break or in case of bollard break; before however, everything was firmly glued and a break in the hull compromised the entire model.


“When we started we wanted an Italian and young-minded company to support us and we chose WASP. We studied the Delta WASP 3D printers and understanding the concept we found that they were all what we needed: speed, precision and a large volume in z rather than in x, y.” says Riccardo Suriano.

“We exploit the advantages of delta mechanics, placing 99% of our pieces in z for a very satisfying finish. We use the Delta WASP 4070 INDUSTRIAL for the larger parts while the Delta WASP 2040 TURBO2 realization of all the smallest parts printed without any problems with an excellent surface given by the double WASP ZEN Extruder ”.


“An important concept for us is the 3D modeling realized through additive manufacturing as a final result. Normally, when designing for manufacturing, there are a lot of constraints to take into consideration: draft angles, cutter rays, etc., due to this we have radically changed our concept of design”.

“We try to make the most of the characteristics of 3D printing by making shapes for the joints but also the gears for completely unconventional movements, we try to exploit the elasticity created by the infill, we create reticular structures as supports for bridges and we are convinced that there is still a lot to be found in terms of design 4.0 ”, comments Riccardo Suriano passionately. 

MATERIA is a young company whose aims are to create scale models of the highest quality, reflecting reality as much as possible and offering constant service to customers not only during project development but also after sales.