3D printing in architecture


This Bizarre Concrete Beam Is the Smartest Use of 3D Printing In Architecture Yet 

This Bizarre Concrete Beam Is the Smartest Use of 3D Printing In Architecture Yet

I’m going to put this as gently as possible: 3D printing entire buildings, right down to the fixtures, doesn’t make a ton of sense yet.

It’s an exciting vision of the future, of course, but it’s also a myopic one—we’re forcing an emerging technology to fit into the mold of our existing world. While plenty of companies have demonstrated it can be done, that doesn’t mean it should be done. A group of Italian engineers and researchers want to prove that 3D printing individual structural unit makes more financial and environmental sense. The group, called WASProject, originally set out to design a printer that could produce full homes. “WASP was born with the dream of printing houses with 100% natural materials,” the company writes today. “But wisdom teaches that extremism is never a good thing.”

This Bizarre Concrete Beam Is the Smartest Use of 3D Printing In Architecture Yet 

Now, WASProject focuses on printing specific pieces of buildings and bridges—the structural beams—that usually require the most heavy and CO2-producing concrete. “Concrete is bad for the planet,” the group explains. “A ton of cement generates a ton of Co2.”

The group’s designs get rid of any redundant materials in a beam. With smart software modeling, they say they’re able to cut down on the amount of CO2 produced by a structural beam by 50 percent. The product of their research was unveiled today, and they describe it as “the world’s first 3D printed reinforced beam,” though other groups have certainly been pursuing similar ideas.

The fact that it’s lighter and less expensive isn’t the most important thing about the design—it’s the fact that is uses less concrete. Concrete is the most-used artificial material on Earth, aGizmodo’s Maddie Stone wrote yesterday, and it’s now a $100 billion market. In countries that are developing cities very rapidly, it’s the singular building block: One popular stat, for example, holds that China has used more concrete in the past three years than the US did in the entire 20th century. And unfortunately, making the stuff contributes to as much as 7 percent of global CO2 emissions.

While printing full houses also has the potential to cut back on waste, by using construction refuse for “ink,” for example, the technology is still too nascent to be used widely anytime soon, or in any structure besides simplistic one-story homes. WASP’s beam, on the other hand, is already being stress-tested at the University of Naples’ engineering lab. One day, it could be integrated into conventional structures and skyscrapers, without the architects or developers needing to design a fully printed building.

It’s still a long ways from being adopted by the industry—this is still just an experiment. But it’s far less of a pipe dream than a full 3D-printed house. You might be waiting on that for a while.


by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan | 8/11/15 11:00am

3D printing headlines

A Quick Look at the 10 Most Exciting 3D Printing Headlines of 2014!


TOP 10 3D printing stories of 2014

Over the past year, 3D printing projects and experiments have continued to develop and expand manufacturing capabilities. ranging from self-initiated experiments displayed at global and local events such as the maker faire, the past 12 months have seen the continuation of independent companies and start-ups exploring new production extents, and the introduction of worldwide-industry brands researching modern possibilities. continuing our annual review of the year’s BIG stories, we round up the numerous 3D printing projects that caught our eye in 2014.
TOP 10 3D printing stories of 2014
on-board the international space station (ISS) on november 24th, NASA and made in space created history by successfully 3D printing the first object in space. the hardware, a functional faceplate for the machine’s own extruder printhead has been additively manufactured in space, instead of being launched in a rocket from earth. developed in partnership with NASA’s marshall space flight center and ames research center, the project takes a step towards commercially and sustainably fabricating objects off of our planet.
Full-size and functional ‘strati’ car by local motors
TOP 10 3D printing stories of 2014
using direct digital manufacturing (DDM), local motors fabricated and exhibited the world’s first 3D printed car, ‘the strati’, at the international manufacturing technology show (ITMS) in chicago from september 8th to 13th. compiling of 44 hours of printing and two days of assembly, the full-scale and fully functional vehicle is an investigation for the usage capabilities of a hybrid additive/subtractive machine developed at oak ridge national laboratory.
Oliver van herpt develops ceramic 3D printing technique
TOP 10 3D printing stories of 2014
eindhoven-based artist olivier van herpt developed a new technique for 3D printing ceramics in medium and large scale, as a solution to current rapid prototyping not producing objects at human scale. during his research and experimentation process, he modified and configured an extruding machine able to manufacture objects up to 80 cm in height and with a diameter of 42 cm. by altering the settings of the bespoke 3D printer, van herpt created a series of different clay pieces such as the 3D woven collection and sediment collection, which comprises thin layers of ceramics.
3D photographs for people without vision by pirate 3D
TOP 10 3D printing stories of 2014
‘touchable memories’ by pirate3D, turns photographs into 3D-printed objects for people without vision. the social experiment project aims to increase the awareness of the endless possibilities of using technology to improve lives. using an affordable home printer called buccaneer, the visually-impaired can re-experience images by fabricating a tangible scene of it.
A23D letterpress created by chalk studios, new north press and A2-type
TOP 10 3D printing stories of 2014
collaboratively created by new north press, A2-type and chalk studios, the ‘A23D’ is a 3D-printed letterpress font that was exhibited at the V & A museum as part of london design festival’s graphic weekend 2014. the composition connects the newest and oldest forms of press-work by being fabricated using 3D-print technology and pressed in a traditional print studio. the form references the project’s manufacturing system’s nature with a wireframe mold construction.
Andrey Rudenko prints concrete castle
TOP 10 3D printing stories of 2014
following two years of research and development into the capabilities of technology on an architectural scale,minnesota-based engineer andrey rudenko has completed a 3D printed concrete castle, life-sized and capable of habitation. the walls of the small fortress, as well as three tops of the towers, have been fabricated separately and finally assembled and amassed into the single, free-standing structure.
LIX pen doodles in mid-air
TOP 10 3D printing stories of 2014
london-based LIX has created the smallest 3D printing pen in the world, adevice that enables users to doodle in the air. milled from aluminum and measuring 164mm x 14mm, it allows users to make objects in just a few seconds, including calligraphy, accessories and one-off prototypes. functioning similarly to 3D printers, the USB port charging LIX pen quickly melts and cools colored plastic, which enables the pen to create rigid and freestanding structures on demand.
Adobe 3D printing support for photoshop CC
TOP 10 3D printing stories of 2014
adobe announced that they will deliver support for 3D printing in photoshop CC for creative cloud in order to enable an accurate and simplified production process. in addition to new features such as perspective warp for manipulating multiple perspectives in an image and linked smart objects for easier reuse of elements, the 3D modeling extension will allow users to create, refine, and preview their designs before sending them directly to a locally connected 3D printer or other online service such as shapeways.
Rebento Duffel sports bag by NIKE
TOP 10 3D printing stories of 2014
for brazil’s 2014 FIFA world cup, NIKE football launched the rebento duffel, the first 3D printed performance sports bag. the carry-piece takes styling cues from the sport’company’s flyknit pattern of the magista and mercurial, where a laser-sintered nylon creates an intertwined weave. seamlessly fitting into the 3D printed base without the use of glue or adhesive, the premium leather upper and strap construction also gives the body a lightweight, yet durable structure that allows for flex.
Artist diemut strebe uses DNA to print van gogh’s ear
TOP 10 3D printing stories of 2014
artist diemut strebe and a team of scientists have grown a living replica of vincent van gogh’s ear named ‘sugababe’, out of tissue-engineered cartilage sourced from the famed dutch artist’s relative. using a 3D-printer and computer imaging technology, the cells were molded to be identical in shape to van gogh’s ear, which he self-severed during a psychotic episode in 1888. the ear — which is being kept alive inside a case of nutrient solution — was exhibited atZKM karlsruhe, germany, and could be spoken to by visitors through a microphone system, but never heard in order to outline absence instead of presence.

Home of the future

This article brings together some of the recent engineering and construction achievements that have come about as a result of 3D printing, and gives a glimpse into what 3D printing and architecture may produce together in the future!

Still the question remains; Would you live in a 3D Printed House?


The potential of additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, to change the way buildings are made is indisputable. It’s being touted as a solution to challenges in our cities ranging from the need for affordable housing to infrastructure modernisation. The process has been slow, but it may well be a key ingredient in the future of the building industries.

In the last two years, technological advances in scalability are allowing 3D printing to move beyond small-scale architectural models and prototypes. It is now being used in actual housing and infrastructure construction—achieving lower labor costs and finally delivering those long-promised economies of scale.

Helped along by the increasing prevalence of digital 3D modelling software for building and infrastructure design, some of the new results are pretty mind-boggling, too.

Here are three of the latest examples from around the world, which reveal the ways in which 3D printing is changing approaches to architecture, engineering and construction.

1. Kurilpa Bridge, Brisbane

Road and bridge infrastructure is just as important as housing to make cities liveable and workable. Until recently, direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), essentially 3D printing metal parts, was used extensively in the aerospace and automotive industries. But it was not explored thoroughly for usability and cost-effectiveness for bridges and other types of urban infrastructure. The primary reason is because each bridge is a unique design and the savings from prototyping and manufacturing aren’t as obvious.

Moving now to Australia, global engineering firm Arup was tasked with creating components for an unconventional pedestrian bridge. Arup decided to use 3D printing as an internal research project to determine how a laser-sintered, printed metal part could hold up to structural standards. The parts for such a bridge also had to be load-bearing connections.

Arup’s engineers came up with a complex design with “root” supports and extra struts were added to the part to support it during printing. The struts allowed for a hollow design that reduced the overall weight of the bridge node and was more aesthetically pleasing than a traditionally machined one. The design and production of the bridge nodes allowed new degrees of design freedom and Arup is already using the research on other projects.

2. Canal House, Amsterdam

The first entrant in the race to build a fully 3D-printed house is Amsterdam’s DUS Architects. Using The KamerMaker (room builder), a 20-foot-tall custom 3D printer created by DUS and Ultimaker, the architecture firm has been printing a house along one of Amsterdam’s famous canals bit by bit for the last year-and-a-half and expects to have it completed in 2015.

The KamerMaker works essentially like a larger version of a desktop Makerbot. The printer head extrudes the melted plastic material along the programmed path on the X and Y axes and when finished moves up one step along the Z axis. Unlike its desktop cousin, it can print whole rooms.

The exterior walls of the Canal House cover a range of sustainable materials, including Hotmelt—a type of industrial glue developed by German chemicals manufacturer Henkel. Comprised of 80 per cent vegetable oil, Hotmelt is used to form bio-based plastics. DUS and Henkel are also experimenting with eco-concrete. They are testing out a variable concrete mix that allows the team to add insulative material and colour to the wall sections. Once printed, the wall sections fit together sort of like Lego.

While the Canal House won’t be completed until next year, it has already created several innovations, including one of the largest-scale 3D printers in the world and advances in sustainable materials.

3. WinSun Houses, Shanghai

On the other side of world comes an entirely different perspective on 3D-printed housing. While the Canal House is experimental, architecturally elegant and pushes the envelope of materials science and constructibility, it will take three years to complete.

Meanwhile, Shanghai WinSun Decoration Design Engineering claims to have erected 10 3D-printed houses—each costing about $4,800—in less than 24 hours.

There’s some debate over whether Shanghai WinSun’s houses are genuinely a 3D creation because they were printed not as a single item, but in parts that were then assembled onsite. But the feat is impressive nonetheless.

The simple, concrete-framed buildings were made using an enormous 3D printer that is 150 meters long, 10 meters wide and 6.6 meters high. The houses each cover an area of 200 square meters and were designed to someday provide affordable housing to the homeless.

The 3D-printed “ink” of each structure is a combination of recycled construction and industrial waste materials formed into structural concrete and wall panels.

These houses may not win any design awards, but the manufacturing concept that delivered them so cheaply and quickly is a leap forward in sustainable tilt-up construction. The process contains costs and could be applied to solving housing crises in major cities around the world.

New Uses For 3D Printing

The above examples are just three among the many new uses of 3D printing at building scale that are popping up around the world. They clearly point to a world where advances in 3D-modelling software in combination with advances 3D-printing technologies (both in terms of size and materials like concrete and carbon fibre) will allow architecture and construction professionals to more efficiently and more sustainably design and implement building solutions for our rapidly urbanising planet.

As the organic form of Arup’s root supports suggest, 3D printing may also indicate a future of beautiful new architecture and infrastructure in our cities.

by  | 11 DECEMBER 2014 2:30 PM