googlead166c37c697d4d3.html Glenn Ashton Author Blog: Architecture revolutionized by Swiss 3D printing


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Architecture revolutionized by Swiss 3D printing

A breakthrough in the use of 3D printing has enabled architects to allow their creativity unlimited room to create, and to build building blocks that are strong and durable.

What this means for the rest of us is that our future towns and cities (not to mention homes) will look like nothing ever seen on earth before.

If you want to live in a house that resembles your own dreams of the palace of Versailles, this will be possible (for a price that you can afford, as the building process costs are reduced over time).

If you want your children’s playground for your local school to have buildings fashioned after their favorite nursery rhymes or movies, this can be done.

How did this happen?

Thinking big is apparently no challenge for architects Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger. They've created a 3D printed room using algorithms to design its intricate cathedral-like interior. Assembled from 64 massive separate sandstone parts printed out with a huge 3D printer, the room contains 260 million surfaces printed at a resolution of a tenth of a millimeter. The 11-ton room took a month to print but only a day to assemble. The fabrication methods the duo used to print the room will, they believe, open the door to printing architecture, freeing architects to create new unimaginable buildings and also restore old ones.

What  was the breakthrough?

They made the process move from nice to know, to actually possible, through their production methods:

Hansmeyer and Dillenburger, both computational architects at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology's architecture department in Zurich, wrote algorithms to completely design the complex geometry of the 16 square meter (170 sq ft) room . Dubbed "Digital Grotesque," their modern take on a medieval grotto was made with a new type of 3D printed sandstone, infused with a hardening resin to increase its structural stability. To print out the sandstone parts that made the room, the duo used a massive Voxeljet 3D printer, about the size of a large room. "It can print a single piece that weighs 12 tons, yet at a layer resolution of 0.13 millimeters," says Hansmeyer. "This combination of scale and resolution seemed unreal to us at first."

The scale of machines, high material costs and the structural weakness of 3D printed materials is the reason why architects have up to now used 3D printing technology only to make prototypes or small scale models. The sand-printing technology the duo employed finds use in industrial applications, but with the addition of their innovative methods, it can now be used to create huge prefabricated sandstone bricks strong enough to build with.

What is coming to you because of the Swiss breakthrough:

One day, soon, you will be able to have architects and builders design buildings for you that defy conventional shapes, sizes and looks.

If  you want swooping curves, with little Michelangelo Davids hidden in a forest of tropical palms, you will be able to demand this, and get it done for you.

Say Goodbye to conventional suburbs, and Hello to downtown high density apartment buildings like nothing seen on earth today.

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