Realistic 3d printing


I am a second year architectural student and my project is to build a brick house then 3d print it. Could you direct me to tutorial that would explain how to texture the walls so that the model would have the look and feel of real brick.


Making a texture out of geometry is not recommended or well supported by SU and, I suspect, by 3D printing, because it is so extravagently wasteful of computing resources.

Within the range of SU’s more conventional uses–that is, 3D visual representations–textures are represented by bitmap images. To cover a model in, say, tiny little models of bricks, would be a ruinously greedy user of real-time computing resources as your system labors to render that many faces, and the output file would likely be huge and unwieldy.

Notwithstanding whatever new considerations are raised by 3D printing, I think your idea is not practical in SU. It’s hard to picture a tutorial about how to do something that is essentially poor modeling practice.

But who knows? You may get lucky searching YouTube–as I’m sure you know, people put all kinds of questionable stuff there, and there are many SU demos.



If you want to print a brick-like surface then you need to model a brick-like surface.
Like Gully points out, that will be a challenge.

I learned from Patrick Fleege’s presentation at 3D Basecamp that sometimes it’s necessary to exaggerate the scale of fine details so that they’re …
A. Big enough to see and feel in the printed model.
B. Within the resolution capabilities of the printer.

Patrick Fleege is Sr Project Mgr at LGM Architectural Visualization, Minturn, Colorado
Visit them here: LGM Architectural Visualization

Notice LGM has an information page addressing the specific needs of Architecture Students.
Information and Help for Students — LGM Public Media


You can achieve the effect you want by printing your brick walls in laser-sintered nylon or sandstone. Both have a rough finish that feels somewhat gritty and would be close to what a small brick might feel like. Using three components (a wall, a brick, and a half-brick), you can easily make a 3D wall section that most printer processing software will accept. As long as you “push” the brick components into the wall component, the interference between the two will automatically be merged. This makes it easy to create arrays of bricks without having to worry about intersection issues. The use of components will also keep the file size to a minimum

The SketchUp result:

This was scaled to 3% of the original size and exported as a DAE file which was then uploaded to a 3D printing vendor’s website for processing. This particular vendor would charge $9.38 (in nylon) for the sample wall section I created.

Note that when scaled down, the grooves are too small to print in most materials (as Geo noted). The 3/8" grooves in my example end up being 0.01125" which is still larger than the 0.008" limit of this vendor’s nylon printer. However, the same vendor’s limit for sandstone is .0157" minimum, so it can’t be printed in that material.

I wasn’t able to determine exactly what material(s) LGM is using, but most vendors will send you some sample prints so that you can get a feel for the textures and strengths. As Gully noted, trying to achieve even a simple tessellated surface to produce a rough finish would produce files that most vendors will probably reject due to their sheer size. And it’s probably unnecessary as well.

Model: brick_wall_2.skp (71.1 KB)

[edit] I increased the scale by 50% and uploaded another sample. The vendor’s rendering for sandstone shows the grainy finish you will get even though the 3D data had smooth faces (you also get the bonus of full-color printing).

Model: brick_wall_3.skp (54.5 KB)


Hi All,
I Appreciate all your suggestions and help.

Jimhami42 could you kindly give me the name of your printer service so that
I could have a sample wall printed.
I very much appreciate your help and drawings which helped me get started.
Best wishes to all.


[Disclaimer: There are many quality print shops available. I happened to start using Shapeways about 1-1/2 years ago after reading an article about them somewhere. Since then, I’ve had no need to look elsewhere so I can’t give an honest comparison to others.]

Shapeways makes it easy. Go to their website, create an account, upload your DAE file, and then see how much it will cost (or learn why it can’t be printed). This is all free. If you want to print something you’ve uploaded, just put them in your basket and check out like any other on-line shop. Their sample kits can be found at:

If you hover your mouse over their “samples,” it will give you more information about each material. The nylon and sandstone I referred to are in the $29.99 sample kit, but you get a $25 store credit if you follow up having something printed after you order the samples.

The downside of their process is the delivery time. I uploaded a heart-shaped box design on February 17th and it arrived on February 27th (a little late for this year’s Valentine’s Day, but a good jump on next year’s). 10 days really isn’t terribly bad, but in this day-and-age of instant gratification, it can seem like ages (especially if you’re trying to meet a deadline).

Good luck with your bricks :slight_smile:


Thanks for the information appreciate all your help