The Burgeoning Craft of 3D Printing

KPF’s models of concepts, facades, and building details. Image © John Chu/Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

This article by Marc Kristal from Metropolis Magazine, originally titled “Digital Details,” looks at the work of NRI, a New York company that is leading the way when it comes to (or rather, additive manufacturing) – finding that there is a craft in these machine-produced models after all.

First things first: The term “3-D printing” is a misnomer according to Arthur Young-Spivey, the digital fabrication specialist at NRI—a 116-year-old, New York–headquartered supplier of reprographic services to architects and their tradespeople. “The correct term is ‘additive manufacturing,’” he explains. “People call it 3-D printing because it enables you to wrap your head around it, but in some ways it’s confusing.”

Young-Spivey has a point, as the process by which a digital file is converted into an object isn’t “printing” in the commonly understood sense of applying pigment on a substrate. With 3-D printing, he says, “Instead of using paper, you’re printing with powder or plastics. It’s all one layer at a time.” The thinner the layer, the better the quality, and the longer the process takes. “And there’s always post-production processing, to clean up the model,” he adds. “That’s why ‘additive manufacturing’ is a more accurate description.”

Read on for more on the work of NRI

First 3D Printed House to Be Built In Amsterdam

“The building industry is one of the most polluting and inefficient industries out there,” Hedwig Heinsman of Dus Architects tells The Guardian‘s Olly Wainwright, “With -printing, there is zero waste, reduced transportation costs, and everything can be melted down and recycled. This could revolutionise how we make our cities.”

Working with another Dutch firm, UltimakerDus Architects have developed the (Room Maker), a 3D Printer big enough to print chunks of buildings, up to 2x2x3.5 meters high, out of hotmelt, a bio-plastic mix that’s about 75% plant oil. The chunks can then be stacked and connected together like LEGO bricks, forming multi-story homes whose designs can be adapted according to users’ needs/desires. For Dus’ first project, they’ve taken as inspiration the Dutch canal house, replacing hand-laid bricks with, in Wainwright’s words, “a faceted plastic facade, scripted by computer software.”

So far, only a 3m-high, 180-kg sample corner of the future canal house has been printed; moreover, the blocks will need to be back-filled with lightweight concrete, meaning it’s not yet as biodegradable as its creators would like. However, its game-changing potential is already provoking much interest in the public; over 2,000 people have come to visit the site, including Barack Obama. Learn more at The Guardian and in the video above.

Adobe Photoshop Becomes a Tool for 3D Printing

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has unveiled a major update to Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) with the hope that a “radically simplified 3D printing process” will make their the “go-to tool for anyone who wants to print a 3D model.” Their new allows for designers to create a model from scratch or refine an existing design leading to perfect print ready 3D models. Since one of the most common problems with 3D printing is the human errors in virtual modeling, Photoshop includes automatic mesh repair and will insert a support structure if necessary to ensure that the model will print reliably and without faults.

You can find out more about Adobe Photoshop and 3D Printing here. This update to Photoshop is already available for those who are subscribed to Adobe’s Creative Cloud.

Four Architectural Innovations Make Time’s Top 25 Inventions For 2013

The Infinity Tower by . Image Courtesy of fastcodesign.com

Last week Time Magazine released their list of the top 25 inventions of 2013. The list covers both fun and life-changing new ideas, covering everything from the Cronut to the Artificial Pancreas – but there are also four architectural innovations that made the prestigious list. Find out more about them after the break.

ArchDaily 3D Printing Challenge: The Winners

3D Printing has opened up a whole new world for architecture. that was once restricted to fabrication labs is now available to the end user – and at an affordable price. Of course, this new has also created the necessity to easily share 3D data over the web.

With this in mind, we partnered with Gigabot – the biggest, most affordable 3D printer (it can print models up to 60x60x60cm) – and with Sketchfab, a new platform that is bridging the gap between the 3D models on your desktop and on the web.

We invited our readers to model their favorite architectural classic, and today we are announcing the two winners who will  recive a real-life physical model, printed with the Gigabot.

The Gigabot team chose the Villa Savoye modeled by by Luiza Lense as their pick, and our readers also voted this model as the most popular. According to the rules, the People’s Choice goes to the second most voted model: the Lotus Temple by Elijah Wood. We will document the printing process to show you how they go from bits to atoms!

Thanks to everyone who submitted their 3D Models. You can see all the submissions in our 3D Printing Challenge page.

3D Printing Moves Into the Fourth Dimension

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While most of us are grappling with the idea of 3D printing, Skylar Tibbits – computational architect and lecturer at MIT – is spearheading projects towards a fourth dimension. Transformation, Tibbit claims, is an uncharted capability that enables objects – straight off the printing bed – to assemble themselves, changing from one form to another. “Think: robots with no wires or motors.” Tibbits exhibits how a single strand – embedded with predetermined properties – can fold from a line to a three dimensional structure. “I invite you to join us in reinventing how things come together.”

ArchDaily 3D Printing Challenge: Vote For Your Favorites!

As becomes more accessible, and a whole lot cheaper, it will open up a whole new world for architecture. There’s just one problem: how to share all that 3D data easily over the web. With this in mind, we’ve partnered with Gigabot - the biggest, most affordable 3D printer (printing models up to 60x60x60cm) – and Sketchfab - a new platform bridging the gap between the 3D models on your desktop and the web – to launch a new, exciting competition.

We asked our readers to model their favorite architectural classics from the AD Classics section, upload it to Sketchfab, and share it with the ArchDaily community. The submitted models are now available in our gallery, and it will be up to our readers to vote for their favorites – giving the authors the chance to have their model printed and delivered straight to his or her doorstep!

Voting is open until October 17th 11:59PM EST. On October 18th we’ll reveal the People’s Choice winner and the Gigabot Selection.

Browse and vote for your favorite model now!

Want to Get Into 3D Printing? Follow These Tips…

Courtesy of The Architecture Foundation

Even if you’re a 3D printing whiz (if so, consider entering our exciting 3D Printing Challenge), to many people it remains something of a mystery: how does it work, what can it do and how much does it cost? Thankfully, this recent article and infographic by Line//Shape//Space, aimed at “early adopters” of the technology, covers all this information (and even some common pitfalls to be avoided). You can read the full article here.

ArchDaily 3D Printing Challenge

Printing has opened up a whole new world for architecture. Technology that was once restricted to fabrication labs is now available to the end user – and at an affordable price. Of course, this new technology has also created the necessity to easily share data over the web.

With this in mind, we have partnered with Gigabot – the biggest, most affordable 3D printer (it can print models up to 60x60x60cm) – and with Sketchfab, a new platform that is bridging the gap between the 3D models on your desktop and on the web.

We want to encourage users to start using this new technology, and what better way than to start printing the buildings we love? We invite you to model your favorite architectural classic and receive a real-life physical model, right on your doorstep.

The process is simple: model any building that is already on the AD Classics section, upload it to Sketchfab, and submit it using the following form. You’ll have two opportunities to win: ArchDaily readers will vote for one People’s Choice Award winner, and, together with Gigabot, we at ArchDaily will pick one winner as well. Both winners will be printed and shipped anywhere in the world. We’ll also make all the models available to the ArchDaily community, so anyone can add an extra layer of building information to these classics.

Submissions are open until October 1st; winners will be announced on October 7th. Read below for the full rules.

SUBMIT YOUR MODEL

NASA Plans to 3D Print Spacecraft in Orbit

© Tethers Unlimited Inc.

As revealed in an article on Gigaom, NASA has recently added an extra $500,000 into a collaboration with Tethers Unlimited, a company researching ways to 3D print and assemble structures whilst in orbit. Using this technology, their SpiderFab robots reduce the size of the rockets needed to launch materials into space, and also allow for much larger structures to be created than in any previous technique – opening up new possibilities for construction in space. You can read the full article here.

The City of Chicago Gets 3D Printed

Courtesy of The Chicago Architecture Foundation

We’ve talked at length about the future potential of 3D Printing for Architecture – from rapidly producing emergency shelters to putting structures on the moon - but The Chicago Architecture Foundation has already found a way to make 3D Printing practical for architects – today. Since 2009, the foundation has been using 3D Printing to make models of all the buildings of the city of Chicago (that’s over 1,000 buildings in a 320 sq ft area). The idea is to let native Chicago-ans and tourists alike get a better sense of the city, seeing the city grid, the relationship of heights between the tall buildings, its patterns of development.”

As 3D Printing technology gets more and more sophisticated, it’s easy to imagine that every architect will soon have a 3D printer that could do the same – allowing him/her to instantly visualize not just his/her design-in-progress, but every surrounding building as well.

Check out some cool videos of this 3D printed Chicago, after the break…

Architecture by Robots, For Humanity

Courtesy of blog.rhino3d.com – ROB/Arch Workshop, Rotterdam

Architecture is quickly adopting the popular technology of robots. Although it is slightly hard to define what “” really means, for architecture, it tends to refer to anything from arms to CNC mills to 3D printers. Basically, they are programmable, mechanical, and automated instruments that assist in processes of digital .

So, what might robots mean for architecture? A more precise architecture which could contribute to a more sustainable building life cycle? More innovative design derived from algorithmic processes? A more efficient prefabrication process that could reduce the time and cost of construction?

Probably a mix of all three. But more importantly, what might robots mean for humans? Robotic replacement for the construction worker? Loss of local craftsmanship and construction knowledge? Maybe. But I might reformulate the question. Asking what robots mean for humans implies passivity.

What I ask, then, is what can robots do for humans?

3D Printing Pen Turns Sketches Into Reality In Seconds

The 3Doodler isn’t just a small pen-like device that’s “the most affordable way to print” – it’s also a smash. The pen reached its $30,000 goal in just a few hours, and, at the time of publication, has earned $555,301.

We’ve mentioned 3D Printing before for its exciting potential for architecture in the long-term; however, this little doodler shows how quickly the technology is progressing (and how cheap it’s becoming). Plus, it’s easy to imagine the 3Doodler becoming an integral part of any architect’s life, as the device lets you trace your drawings and then pop them to life. It’s not a 2D plan, it’s not a 3D visualization, but something – awesomely – in between. 

Learn more about this 3-D Printing Kickstarter success, after the break…

Contour Crafting Picks Up Speed

In 2006, Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis, professor at the University of Southern California, introduced the world to Contour Crafting: the idea of applying Computer Aided Design and 3D Printing to homes and eventually larger buildings. As Dr. Khoshnevis explains in this TED Talk, Contour Crafting uses a giant 3D printer that hangs over a designated space and robotically builds up the walls of that building with layers of concrete. The can paint the walls and tile surfaces and even knows to construct plumbing and electrical wiring as it goes (Dvice). The idea is that by automating the construction process – one of the only processes humans still do largely by hand – homes will be cheaper and more quickly erected, with significantly lower labor costs. More importantly, Khoshnevis believes that Contour Crafting is essential to creating a more “dignified” architecture by eliminating slums in developing countries and aiding areas in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster.

While Dr. Khoshnevis continues to develop Contour Craft, Dutch architect has already come up with the first house design that can be printed using this up-and-coming technology.

More after the break…

Foster + Partners To 3D Print Structures on the Moon

Courtesy of Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners, in conjunction with the European Space Agency (ESA), has undertaken a study to explore the possibilities of using to construct lunar habitations on the moon’s southern pole (where there is near perpetual sunlight). The firm has already designed a lunar base that could house four people, and has begun to test the structure in a vacuum chamber that echoes lunar conditions.

The shell of the base, which has a hollow closed cellular structure inspired by natural biological systems, should be able to protect potential inhabitants from “meteorites, gamma radiation and high temperature fluctuations.” According to Xavier De Kestelier, Partner at Foster + Partners, the firm is ”used to designing for extreme climates on earth and exploiting the environmental benefits of using local, sustainable materials – our lunar habitation follows a similar logic.”

The study will also address the challenges of transporting materials to the moon, and is investigating the use of lunar soil, known as regolith, as the potential building matter.

More details from Foster + Partners‘ Press Release, after the break:

Printing 3D Buildings: Five tenets of a new kind of architecture / Neri Oxman

As a designer, architect, artist and founder of the Mediated Matter group at MIT’s Media LabNeri Oxman has dedicated her career to exploring how digital design and technologies can mediate between matter and environment to radically transform the way we design and construct our built world. In this article, which was first published by CNN, Oxman discusses the future of buildings with five tenets of a new kind of architecture. 

In the future we will print 3D bone tissue, grow living breathing chairs and construct buildings by hatching swarms of tiny robots. The future is closer than we think; in fact, versions of it are already present in our midst.

At the core of these visions lies the desire to potentiate our bodies and the things around us with an intelligence that will deepen the relationship between the objects we use and which we inhabit, and our environment: a Material Ecology.

A new model of the world has emerged over the past few decades: the World-as- Organism. This new model inspires a desire to instill intelligence into objects, buildings and cities. It is a model that stands in contrast to the paradigm of the Industrial Revolution, or the World-as-Machine.

Neri Oxman’s five tenets after the break…

SCI-Arc’s Gehry Prize awarded to ‘Phantom Geometry’

SCI-Arc Masters of Architecture graduates Liz and Kyle von Hasseln have been awarded the inaugural Gehry Prize for developing an interruptible printing method, dubbed Phantom Geometry, that allows designers to make alterations to the design while it is being printed. The Phantom Geometry method is a convenient alternative to the conventional, static 3D printing systems available today. The system’s main components includes a UV light projector, a special photo-sensitive resin, and controlled robotic arms from SCI-Arc’s Robot House.

In their own words, the authors’ describe:

KamerMaker: Mobile 3D Printer Inspires Potential for Emergency Relief Architecture

 

3-D Printing 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.

Join us after the break for more.