A Project of Epic Proportions: A Taiwanese Artist is Using 30 Printers to Print a 26-Foot Long Boat Consisting of 100,000 Parts
A Project of Epic Proportions: A Taiwanese Artist is Using 30 Printers to Print a 26-Foot Long Boat Consisting of 100,000 Parts
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
CHECK OUT our latest blog post! Analysing the impact of 3D printing on houses, cars and boats, we take a look at WinSun; the eco-friendly house builders, Kor Ecologic Ltd; the 3D car printers and the space age looking URBEE 2, a completely 3D printed vehicle!
If you’ve been following our blog, you’ve most likely been impressed with 3D printing’s versatility – stylish casts, augmented reality sets, retro gaming devices and even beautiful dresses – but now, prepare to marvel in 3DP’s greatest achievements.
Think big – both in scope and size – and you may come close to what we’re about to show you.
We’re taking a look at 3D printable houses, cars and boats – in a quick review sure to please the techies and leave the average person dumbfounded.
You may be asking – how can a relatively small device create a house, or rather, a home, or even a vehicle?
The video below captures an ambitious Chinese company’s plans to mass produce houses. Oh, and these aren’t made of plastic! Using recycled stone and quick-drying cement, WinSun, the company responsible, are able to construct 10 eco-friendly dwellings a day!
As we look towards our Chinese printing cousins – we must admire their efficiency and applaud their intention to plug a hole in the market. With China’s property bubble only beginning to show signs of popping in 2014, millions are currently occupying less than adequate living quarters.
Sitting at only a few thousand dollars each, these cosy houses would make a perfect home for the millions of students in Beijing, for example.
Besides being cost-effective, 3D printing is all about environmental protection and longevity. In line with this, Kor Ecologic ltd. are aiming to reduce the billion vehicles already present on our polluted roads – by, you guessed it, 3D printing cars.
As per Korecologic.com, by the time 2050 rolls around the world’s car population will rise to a staggering 2.5 billion. Clearly it would be advantageous for the children of tomorrow to purchase one type of car when they reach their coming of age – one that supports, rather than destroys the environment.
With 3D printing ushering in a new wave of efficiency and sustainability for those knowledgeable enough to harness its power – one should certainly consider a 3D printable car as a gift for the near future.
So, what 3D printed cars are currently available on the market?
The URBEE 2 – a space age looking vehicle with an internal and external structure entirely 3D printed – would be able to travel an extraordinary 4000 kilometers with only 10 gallons of bio-fuel!
Malta 3D Printing is very excited about this prospect! As an upgrade from its predecessor, the URBEE (a worldwide sensation in 2011), the small but stylish URBEE 2 promises to deliver reliability and affordability for a better tomorrow.
Moving on to the final inspirational product that we’ve chosen to feature on our blog today, we have a pair of 3D printed boats sure to turn heads across the seven seas.
One of thee promising creations is from a group of passionate American students from the University of Washington with their ‘milk jug’ style boat – and another from our friends from the East, a Chinese boat that dipped its toes in the water for the first time less than 2 weeks ago!
The group of students who designed and crafted the ‘milk jug’ boat entered it into the annual Seattle Milk Carton Derby, finishing the race in second place! After 8 long weeks of research and preparation, the student team used recycled and melted milk cartons to build their sea vessel – as opposed to the standard thermoplastics normally used.
The Chinese boat, created by the country’s largest 3D printer, is a two-metre long boat weighing in at 35 kilograms, and made of nylon. Similar to the American entry, the Chinese boat supports two adults.
Malta 3D Printing believes that group of UW students really outdid themselves. Both companies used a minimalist approach, recycling different materials to achieve aesthetically pleasing and practical products.
Of course, these projects are not for any regular amateur – requiring plenty of materials and knowledge in the world of 3D printing and their respective areas (architecture, aerodynamics, buoyancy, to name a few).
We hope to see more groundbreaking additions to the 3D printed world soon!
First there were 3D printed robots.
Then there were 3D printed houses.
Now, there are robots, with 3D printed parts, 3D printing houses!
It is amazing how quickly the technologies around 3D printing have been developing over the last couple of years. Not only are we seeing Moore’s Law-like increases in the speeds of these prints, all the while prices are dropping substantially, but entirely new innovative approaches seem to emerge each day.
For instance, we have already seen 3D printing drones, combo 3D printer/CNC machines, a 3D printing assembly line, and all sorts of crazy new ways to print with food. Today a unique, but quite innovative approach to 3D printing has been unveiled by a team of researchers at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), based in Barcelona, Spain.
One problem with 3D printers today, is that their build envelopes are limited by the size of the actual printer. In order to print a house, you need a 3D printer which is larger than that house. This severely limits the utility of any one device, and equates to substantial costs for any person or company trying to print on a large scale. A team of researchers, led by Sasa Jokic, and Petr Novikov at IAAC, and includes Stuart Maggs, Dori Sadan, Jin Shihui and Cristina Nan, have invented and worked diligently on a method of printing large scale objects, such as buildings, with mobile 3D printing robots they call Minibuilders.
“Within the construction industry we haven’t seen any disruptive technologies being introduced for almost a century,” stated the IAAC research team. “We believe that robotics and additive manufacturing will play a key role in the construction industry of the future.”
The Minibuilder lineup consists of three different robotic devices, each with dimensions no larger than 42cm. Despite their small size, they are capable of printing buildings of almost any proportion. All three robots, all responsible for different functions, are required during any large 3D printing project.
This is the first robot to enter the construction site. It uses tracks as well as a line-follower sensor to move around and recognize curves of a project. The side of this robot holds the actual print head, which can gradually move up as the printed object builds upon itself. Once the object gets higher than the reach of the Foundation Robot’s arm, it’s time to move to the next Minibuilder.
This robot clamps itself to the top of a build project, using four rollers. Each of the four rollers are connected to rotational and steering actuators, allowing the robot to position itself on a very precise area of the structure to begin printing. This robot uses the previously printed structure as a gripping support, so the material needs to dry extremely fast to allow it to support the next layer of the print. To do this, the Grip Robot uses heaters to cure the material as fast as possible. Once a structure’s shape and size are complete it is time to move on to the next robot.
This is the final robot of the MiniBuilder construction process. It uses a vacuum within a suction cup to allow for attachment to the surface of an object. The purpose of this robot is to reinforce the structure which has been printed. To do this it travels up and down the structure repeatedly with two tracks, printing a material almost perpendicular to that of the other layers. This provides substantial support for larger objects.
Working together these Minibuilders are able to produce large scale 3D prints without the need for a large scale 3D printer. Although the technology may not have been perfected, researchers have put in place a stepping stone for a new method of printing buildings and other large object, which we are sure will continue to develop.
What do you think about this new 3D printing system? Could you see large buildings and homes eventually using a technology like this? Let us know in theMinibuilder forum thread at 3DPB.com. Check out the video below, provided by IAAC, showing the Minibuilders in action.