Printers to print buildings with never before seen designs
We previously covered the life and the struggle of Enrico Dini, the robotcist, the scientist, and the creator of the world’s largest 3D printer D-shape. Meant to make large scale sandstone buildings with minimal human intervention, D-shape is indeed a mean invention. Yet, it’s not the only instance when 3D printing is considered as a medium of construction. Ask Architect and MIT professor Neri Oxman about his ongoing investigations on the application of 3D printing techniques in building construction. If Oxman is successful, her approach could develop designs that are impossible with today’s construction methods.
Currently, 3D printers are being used as rapid prototyping machines to primarily develop detailed plastic models through the medium of computer-aided design. However, what Oxman intends to do is to make use of concrete, polymers, and other materials in 3D printers and eventually use them in building construction. More specifically, Oxman is working to extend the capabilities of these machines. For example, she is trying to change the elasticity or the porosity of concrete as it’s printed.
Oxman is on her way to design new strategies that take advantage of these capabilities and is drawing inspiration from Mother Nature to do so. For instance, the wood that makes up palm trees is denser on outside and porous on the center. This is because bending stress is the maximum of periphery. What Oxman intends to do is to make concrete columns by following this very principal. She also estimates to save more than 10 percent on the amount of concrete used this way. She is also designing a software to realize her design strategy. It takes the data in the form of various stresses applied on the structure as well as design constraints that vary from building to building. Based on these inputs, the software applies algorithms to specify how the material properties need to vary from portion of portion in a structure.
Now if we talk about the results of her efforts they are encouraging to say the least. In fact they are so beautiful and intriguing that Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Science in Boston have featured them. Although the work is in early stage, the possibilities of this design and construction with this new approach are immense.
Image by poptech