The advent of 3D printing continues to revolutionize the way we approach the creative process. If being able to draw up and print out your very own paper or plastic molds isn't enough, how about printing your own building? That's what Janjaap Ruijssenaars plans to do for the next two years.
The Dutch architect is setting out on a quest to build a structure resembling a Mobius strip using the relatively new D-Shape printer. He has already enlisted the help of two friends: the mathematician-sculptor Rinus Roelofs and Enrico Dini, the man who invented the D-Shape 3D printer. The Landscape House will appear as "one surface folded in an endless mobius band." Just imagine a building whose floors seamlessly transform into ceiling, along with stairs that spiral you from the lower floor to the upstairs level and back down on the opposite end.
The D-Shape printer finished a proof of concept small-scale sculpture. If this is how the houses will look, I question the price tag. (Source: D-Shape)
How does one actually go about printing an entire building? Using the D-Shape printer, 20-by-30-foot slabs of a concrete-like material will be printed out at 5mm-thick intervals. The D-Shape is essentially a large aluminum structure that uses CAD/CAM software to drive the manufacturing process taking place inside it. The printer uses stereolithography to solidify and join thin layers of sand with the help of an inorganic bonding agent. The result is an exceptional marble-like material with superior traction, compression, and bending strengths that does not require steel reinforcement. It's also 100 percent environmentally friendly.
It is estimated that each building will cost $6 million to print. The first is expected to be completed by 2014, and the backers hope to print at least one Mobius building per country.
Our creative capabilities continue to expand, even more so now that manufacturing techniques using 3D printing are beginning to catch up with the design potential of advanced CAD software. The work of Ruijssenaars and his partners shows how humans are slowly bridging the gap between imagination and ingenuity.
Cadman-LT, when we're talking about 3D printing a building, it's not usually made of plastic, but of more typical construction materials that begin as powders and are bound together to make a solid like concrete, brick, etc. So there's no melting down involved. For a variety of these materials, see an article I wrote for a UBM sister publication, Future Cities: Your Next City Block, Printable on Site: http://www.ubmfuturecities.com/author.asp?section_id=262&doc_id=523906
Ann, one last thing on this subject. This might be obvious to some, but I just thought of it. I know the 3D printers are good for prototyping the part and assuring it's correct. What I was wondering was...and if this would work...can you take the model(file) for the 3D printed part and feed it to a cad/cam system so that there are no programming errors, so that it is an exact replica of the prototype? So no programmer error.
That was just the main advantage I saw with 3D printing...making prototypes before you actually machine the real deal. So instead of wasting material(machining) you could print it and recycle it if there were changes to be made.
Even if you don't get any scrap, if you printed a part and wanted to make a change to it...you could melt it down and reuse that to reprint it I would hope anyways. I am just talking about like plastic prototype stuff.
I think this is a very interesting idea, guys: recycling the building materials, anyway. I wonder how much (if at all) this potential has been looked at by the inventors of the various different 3D building techniques. Because the ability to do so depends a great deal on how the materials are designed.
Ann, thanks I thought it was a good question too and thanks for the info. Recycling would be just one more benefit. I mean how many new housing projects do you go buy and see all of the scrap? Cabe had a good point as well. If you want to remodel, just recycle your old room into a new one...lol
Cadman-LT, interesting question. You're right--there are a lot of factors involved. Actually you've asked two questions: first, can you melt down the material and second, can you reuse it presumably in the same 3D printer. Whether you can melt the materials depends on whether they're metal or plastic. Since the metals used in 3D printing/AM are powder metals specifically formulated for this process, even if you had the right equipment to melt the object you couldn't reuse the melted metal. There's a similar problem with the plastic, at least in many processes. Of course, for some processes, even if the end user doesn't have the equipment and expertise to recycle the plastic, the manufacturers do. And BTW I'm talking about commercial and industrial processes/equipment, not the maker end.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.