Renovation costs reduced by up to 70%

“With our multiple material options your parts can look and feel almost exactly like the finished product, helping you feel more confident about your prototype and design”

3D printing is able to bring about a lot of change, with many processes still evolving and coming to fruition amidst other industries that now use the technology commonly.
What’s amazing is when we see its true potential for throwing out the arduous traditional and ushering in the streamlined future. For instance, could you imagine saying goodbye to renovating old buildings as we know it?
Goodbye to cranes lifting heavy parts, goodbye to surprise delays due to bad weather conditions. And hello to renovation the right way. With the help of the T3000 and T3500, the necessary big objects can be 3D printed instead of made by hand.

Challenge and solution

While the center of Rotterdam was bombed in World War II, there are still some old buildings left with beautiful ornaments. Sometimes these ornaments get damaged by the weather, making it almost impossible to salvage. However, these old buildings still need maintenance while maintaining their structural integrity. Woonstad Rotterdam, an innovative housing cooperation, makes sure that the buildings get restored to their former glory.

Woonstad Rotterdam was facing a challenge. They needed to renovate two 19th century buildings on the famous street ‘Oude Binnenweg’. Their goal during the redevelopment was to preserve the original character and bring it back where necessary. One of those missing characteristic elements concerned nine drains (supporting a roof gutter) at 10 meters height.

The project involved thorough research. They looking for the best material for the replica ornaments. Resistance to weathering and corrosion was a hard demand for them, as was the cost.

Less labor costs and better results

Prior to incorporating 3D printing, the models were handmade using stone. Handcrafting complex models was labor-intensive and time-consuming, particularly when working out all the geometries and scales required to replicate the original ornaments. 3D printing provided the perfect solution to this problem. With the help of the T3000 and T3500, the necessary big objects could be printed instead of made by hand. Bart van den Ouden, architect at Cardo Architecten: “If we outsource the model making, the cost are much greater. We choose to 3D print models because it allows us to achieve certain results that we would never be able to achieve using traditional methods.”
The gutters that were still present were initially scanned very accurately on the scaffold with a special scanning device. The scanned data was processed in a 3D computer model to then print the gutters. It took not even 2 days to print one piece.

Replica ornament from real to distinguish?

Z3Dlabs owner Zerafet Tenwolde was looking for the best material for the replica ornaments. Ultimately he choose to print the ornaments in the same material as soft drink bottles (PET). This makes the new light weight, stronger and more durable than the original gutters of plaster. The chance of damage caused by cracking is also zero.

In appearance, the ornaments on the facade are not easy to distinguish from the original material. PET is easy to imitate a plaster, wood or cement structure. Cardo architect Bart van den Ouden. “The ornaments are still 9-10 meters high, so you can not see that structure right away. But it has been possible to duplicate the old paint layers in the ornament, making the replicas similar to ornaments manufactured in 1880.’ Due to the accuracy of scanning and 3D printing, you can even see the old layers of paint on the new gutters.

The finish and elements give the buildings Oude Binnenweg 109-110 especially its nostalgic appearance. But they no longer serve as support for the façade as before. “Ornaments are really ornaments – decorations.” According to Van Den Ouden, the construction of the façade is still solid. ‘In the façade construction itself, steel provides the constructive aspect.’ ‘This way a building will retain its historical appearance without using the objects from 1880,’ says architect Bart van den Ouden.

Safety issue

There is also a safety issue when you have to attach the heavy sculptures to the roof of buildings with 4 floors or more with high ceilings. You do not want the heavy ornaments hanging high above the pavement where people are walking in case something goes wrong. “We used to use gypsum before. Imagine how heavily these elements were”, Architect Bart van den Ouden recalls. Since the 3D printed models weigh next to nothing, they were easy to place on buildings.

Future of renovation

3D printing technology has provided Woonstad Rotterdam with more flexibility and freedom than ever before. Changes can be made (if necessary) swiftly, easily and at reduced costs. This level of flexibility presents a wealth of new possibilities for the company and lets them work with a greater amount of freedom.

With a rich portfolio of in-city projects in Rotterdam, 3D printing creates new possibilities for the future: The use of 3D printing in renovations began as an experiment. Van den Ouden: And so far our client Woonkorporatie Woonstad Rotterdam is very satisfied with it.’


• No more compromises on model detail or accuracy
• Reduced costs
• Increased iterations
• Easy to repeat results, with virtually no modelmaking labor required



Woonstad Rotterdam has an advantage over its competitors as it can recreate objects that are no longer in production with the use of a 3D printer.


The full manufacturing is kept in-house, saving a lot of time.


Sculpting ornaments by hand requires great precision and does not leave any room for error. With 3D printing, changes can be made more easily and against a lower cost.


Ornaments no longer have to be handcrafted, significantly reducing labor costs as well as material costs (since it is made of plastic).


It is easy to repeat the results without having to put your trust in the possibly unsteady hand of manual labor.