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.
"Conforming to local building codes" was the phrase that came to mind. I also wonder how building services will be installed. I suppose piping can be planned in and be integral to the walls, but fishing electrical wiring will become a bit more complicated.
Good points, TJ. I would imagine there will be a number of hurdles in getting 3D houses into production. For one, I can't imagine a house built from 3D parts would be cost effective. That may change, though, as the cost of 3D prnting comes down.
Additive manufacturing presents many outstanding opportunities. Without people to stretch the boundries, we'll never discover the limits of this and other new technologies. I don't think I'd really enjoy trying to climb a mobius strip to the second floor, but I'd love to see one just to say I had. The Star Trek replicator provides some ideas on how this technology may be applied in the future. I wonder how they'd add taste.
Good point, Bob from Maine, especially the note on Star Trek. It's amazing how many of the devices used on that show have started to emerge as viable technology. That's why Star Trek was Science Fiction and Star Wars was just a western.
Cabe, thanks for covering this in DN. I included this technology, along with others, for 3D printing buildings in an article 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
My buddy just rented a building. We were going to get some machining equipment...lathes and mills...but I am thinking maybe some 3D printers. See how it goes I guess. I suppose it's dependent on the parts being made so we have to figure that out first. Anyways, I love all articles on 3D-printing! Ann knows that!
Ann, I need to look into this, but just thought I'd ask. Let's say I print out a part, but I don't like it and I re-engineer it and want to print it again. Can I melt down the prototype and re-use the material? I bet you can...along with all the scrap that is produced. Just wondering. A lot of factors involved in this.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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, are the machines you are talking about CNC or manual. Frankly, if you are making any volume of a part, then more traditional machining will beat out 3D printing any day. While the up front cost of a mold or tool may be high, amortized over many thousands of parts the cost is cheap. If you are prototyping or doing very small production runs of complex parts, 3D printing should be the way to go. In addition, 3D printing can be tied to many CAD systems making prototyping and visualization very cost effective. You should probably get some of both.
They actually already have a prototye of a full scale house printer that is more cost effective than people to build. The printer takes in liquid concrete from a mixer and pumps it laying it down layer by layer. The same system is also designed to place all the wiring and plumbing conduits. When the printer is done all that is needed is the internal and external cosmetic finishing (optional) and the windows, doors, and roof. Only works for single story buildings right now but it is still under development. The system is capable of printing the entire house in 20 hours.
naperlou, it would be nice to have both. Do all of the prototyping with the printer and when it comes time to mass produce use machines. That is unless all you do are one-offs in which case a printer might be ideal. Having the two is the best of both worlds!
While this may sound cool, 3D printing is VERY slow. It is very good for low volume, complex and one off shapes. Take, for example, concrete forms. To do it the traditional way, you have to make a form, then you pour the concrete and you have your part. The longest part of the process is making the form. If you only have one to do, then maybe you 3D print instead. On the other hand, at 5mm intervals it will take a VERY LONG TIME. It would probably be better to make forms with 3D printing and then just pour the concrete. It would certainly be faster.
No matter how you do it, it would be equivalent in terms of being environmentally friendly. That is not a consequence of 3D printing. Perhaps he should look at the energy used in the printing as oppossed to various ways of making the forms. That 3D printer will be using lots of energy at the 5mm thickness planned. This is a calculation that is often overlooked.
Well, this is an impressive project, to say the least. Although I personally think that's quite a lot of money to spend on something that's just to prove that something can be done. But I guess you have to start somewhere! I think it will be a long time before actual buildings that are up to code will be 3D printed, though!
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.