3-D Printing technology is developing at quickening pace as both engineers and architects experiment with its technological and social potential. Consider Enrico Dini’s D-Shape printer that prints large scale stone structures out of sand and an inorganic binder or Neri Oxman’s research at MIT which involves a 3-D printing arm and nozzles that can print with a variety of different materials, from concrete to recycled plastic.
Dutch firm DUS Architects, in collaboration with Ultimaker Ltd, Fablab Protospace, and Open Coop, have added another 3-D printing machine to the list known as KamerMaker, the room builder. KamerMaker is the world’s first mobile 3d printer and has the ability to print “rooms” that are up to 11 feet high and 7 feet wide. The machine was unveiled at OFF PICNIC, a precursor to Amsterdam’s annual PICNIC technology festival.
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The mobility of the KamerMaker is what sets it apart from other 3d printers in development. The printer is housed in a movable pavilion in which it can print rooms of plastics – essentially, a pavilion that prints pavilions. The technology is based on a previously released “Ultimaker”, smaller in size and not mobile. The KamerMaker aims to create “on demand architecture that responds to local needs”. In other words, the printer can travel to any site that requires assistance with rebuilding homes or recovering from natural disasters. It can print temporary structures out of recycled materials that are available on location, including biodegradable plastics. Designers can travel with the pavilion and design and build on site.
The designers of the printer call it an “open source” pavilion in that it invites people from all design disciplines, professional and amateur to work together on site, testing, experimenting and building. The printer also allows for a range of experimentation and testing solutions for emergency architecture.
After its unveiling at OFF PICNIC, KamerMaker with be parked in the center of Amsterdam where visitors can witness the live testing of the print techniques and contribute in the building process of the KamerMaker. From 2013 onwards, the printer will travel to different locations. Check the calendar for up to date information.
The technological advancements begs a whole series of questions about efficiency, automation and social circumstances. Like the automotive industry, architecture is moving into a stage of technological advancements that threatens to disengage the designer and builder from the actual architecture. What happens to the jobs within the construction industry when building architecture can be done by machines? Is there a way to create a bulwark against automation that protects an industry and still supports technological advancement?