The world will probably remember Californian inventions festival Maker Faire’s last edition of last weekend for its 3D printer that can print out pancakes. The festival, however, was not just about futuristically Eiffel Tower-shaped pancakes. Another project exposed during the inventions festival was called Endograft. This was is an enormous sculpture made of 222 individually 3D printed parts.
This huge wall is both a prototype and installation and it can be used at home or – for instance – at work offices. If you look closely at the wall, its relievo will appear in front your eyes. Every part is 3D printed, which makes it not just a visually interesting piece of art, but also an exciting example of today’s possibilities of 3D printing.
For the first time ever architects have built a complete “room” with the use of a 3D printer. “Digital Grotesque” is the name of a 16 square meters “fully immersive, solid, human-scale enclosed structure”, which is entirely printed out of sand.
It looks a lot like an exaggerated version of a sandcastle, but the project “Digital Grotesque” is so much more. The designers/ developers of this project are Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger from Swiss. They created this “room”, which has an 11 tonne structure and it exhibits an impressive 260 million surfaces with a layer resolution of 0.13mm. It took the team 13 months to complete the project, while the entire structure was built in only one month.
I believe almost everyone knows about the technical drafts—which contained ancient airplane models, machinery etc.—drawn up by one of the words most foremost geniuses, Leonardo Da Vinci— who just happened to be a scientist, inventor, architect, lawyer, and doctor, all at the same time. His manuscript was sold between the years of 2000-2003 to Bill Gates for a whooping sum of $600,000,000(approximately) breaking all records on book sale.
The book contained some innovative ideas—at least in his time—which were roughly sketched in 2 dimensions(2D) and it gives us a glimpse into the way architectural and mechanical drawings where drafted in those days as well as the presentation models that must have been used in the past. This method of drafting as well as presentation was so limited in many ways that I wouldn’t bother to least them, which brings us to the topic of the day—how 3D modeling has enhanced architectural presentations.
The Invention of CAD Software
There are few technologies that have had as much impact to drafting and the architectural industry like the advent of CAD in 1961 by Ivan Sutherland; he designed the first Computer-Aided-Design Software to run on the large Unix systems of the mid-19th century. This ground breaking innovation was destined to revolutionize the way architects draw and handle presentations.
The Innovative Architectural Presentation Changes
3D modeling did not only change the way we represent diagrams, building plans and drafts but also had a substantial effect on how presentations and exhibitions of architectural designs could be done. These revolutionary qualities of 3D CAD software include:
Realistic Representations—gone are the days where an architect had to physical design a card board model to provide individuals with a life-like representation of his/her plans because with modeling on CAD platforms, one can now easily represent design plan in 3 dimensions which would show observers every part, dimension and documentation of that particular plan.
Incorporating 3D designs in Holographic Representations—the new technology which involves the use of holographs to represent objects, designs and components in virtual space cannot be performed without the use of CAD. This because the designs to be incorporated must first be designed on a 3D modeling/Animation software before transferring to the holographic design software.
The Beauty of Animation—most 3D CAD software applications are now designed to be an integrated platform which can draw 2D drafts, create 3D models and animate them to actually give observers a realistic view of how a project would function.
The Benefits of 3D CAD in Architecture
The benefits of CAD use are numerous but I shall try to outline just the most important ones and how they affect our lives, the architectural design process and enhance productivity.
Speed and Accuracy—no longer do architects need to cross-check drawing papers, tear them up and re-draft all over again for with the use of CAD, you would be intuitively shown every dimensional, extrusive or intrusive change you make to your model. Thereby eliminating the rooms for human error and also cutting the time taken to complete an architectural draft by traditional means in half.
Affordability—yes we all know that the cost of purchasing the initial software can be quite steep and the annual license renewal also comes into play but when compared to the capital spent in purchasing traditional drafting tools and the time taken to complete a task traditionally, the money spent on CAD software steals the show.
Networking Amongst Architects—3D modeling software platforms now come with innovative networking features and interfaces that allow professionals share information and also work simultaneously on a particular project.
Italian inventor Enrico Dini has developed D-Shape. An enormous 3D printer that can print entire buildings out of sand. It works as followed. First the printer sprays a thin layer of sand followed by a layer of magnesium-based binder. The glue turns the sand into solid stone, which is built up layer-by-layer from the bottom up to eventually form an entire house.
Documentary on Enrico Dini
Marc Webb and Wake-Walker are making a documentary about Enrico Dini called ‘The Man Who Prints Houses’. Check out their teaser.
The method of printing houses is called Contour Crafting. A form of 3D printing that uses robotic arms and nozzles to squeeze out layers of concrete or other materials, moving back and forth over a set path to fabricate a large component. Contour Crafting has great potential for creating low-cost, customized buildings. Just think about the possibilities. For instance constructing rapid shelters after natural disasters, or operational structures on the moon out of moon dust, and cheap houses for people in impoverished countries. To visualize this method of constructing you have to watch the video below. It’s pretty old (2010) but new to us. It shows how a straight hollow wall with fiber reinforced concrete is constructed in literally minutes. Really a must see!
The video below gives you an insight in the way Rietveld Architecs NY applies 3D printing in their day to day work. Piet Meijs, Senior Associate talks about 3D printing and the architectural industry. He explains how their Objet Eden 350 helps the firm to improve its model production and the communication with clients.