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Scale Models

Scale Models

Scale models offer a convenient way to represent large three-dimensional objects such as buildings, city layouts, and other manufactured objects. All the dimensions in a scale model are in proportion with those of the original object, which gives them an appearance that matches the objects being represented. Scale models have been used for centuries, dating back to the Egyptians and Chinese, who placed various scale models in the tombs of deceased kings.

Scale models are commonly built by architects during the design phase of a project. They are also routinely used during the development stage of many manufactured objects, including automobiles, residential and commercial buildings, furniture, and machinery. Many scale models are built from drawings that show the different views of an object in two dimensions. Some computer programs can display objects in three dimensions directly on the screen.

There are many advantages to working with scale models. Scale models offer the convenience of verifying the appearance of an object before it is actually made. This allows modifications to be made to the design based on the model, before the full-scale product is created. This may result in substantial cost savings. Scale models also allow viewing from many perspectives, some of which may be difficult to achieve with two-dimensional drawings. Clients, who might not have the trained eye of a designer or architect, find scale models helpful in finalizing product specifications. With buildings and other construction projects, the use of properly-scaled model people, automobiles, plants, trees, and other real-life objects gives a perspective that closely corresponds to the actual appearance as planned.

A working model is a model that is constructed to the exact dimensions of an object. In manufacturing, such a model is usually called a prototype. In addition to giving designers a three-dimensional perspective of an object, a working model may also perform the functions that it is designed to carry out. The automobile industry, for example, routinely builds "concept" cars for the purpose of verifying appearance, testing performance, and determining customer response. In a natural history museum, a working model of a dinosaur may be constructed to give visitors a sense of the creature's actual size.

Other models are larger than their actual counterparts. In industry, oversized scale models give people a better understanding of the workings of small components that are difficult to see. In biology and other sciences, oversized models are able to illustrate details that are not visible with the unaided eye.