Skanska and Foster + Partners Collaborate on World’s First 3D Concrete Printing Robot

© Loughborough University

Global construction company is teaming up with Foster + Partners and the engineers at Loughborough University (LU) to create the world’s first commercial 3D concrete printing . The company has signed an agreement with LU, who has been working on the project since 2007, to partake in an 18-month initiative with a consortium of partners focused on developing a capable of printing complex structural components with concrete.

A video about LU’s research on 3D concrete printing and Foster + Partner’s involvement, after the break.

Defining Place: Alternative Urban Futures from The Neighbourhood

Courtesy of The Neighbourhood

3D printing  is quickly emerging as a that could be applied at the scale of the built environment. But could we use 3D printed materials to create engaging urban spaces that are constantly changing? Creative communications agency, The Neighbourhood, has imagined speculative architecture based on 3D printed materials.

Emerging Objects Invents Earthquake-Proof 3D Printed Column

Courtesy of Emerging Objects

A team of California-based designers have invented an earthquake-proof column built of 3D printed sand, assembled without bricks and mortar to withstand the harshest seismic activity. The ‘Quake Column‘ is comprised of a pre-determined formation of stackable hollow bricks which combine to create a twisting structure, optimized for intense vibrations in zones of activity. Created by firm Emerging Objects, the column’s sand-based composition is one of many in a series of experimental structures devised by the team using new materials for 3D Printing, including salt, nylon, and chocolate. The column can be easily assembled and disassembled for use in temporary and permanent structures, and was designed purposefully with a simple assembly procedure for novice builders.

Find out how the Quake Column works after the break

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Develops 3D Printing Process at the Mircoscale

This electron backscatter diffraction image shows variations in crystallographic orientation in a nickel-based component, achieved by controlling the 3-D printing process at the microscale. Image Courtesy of ORNL

3D printing  continues to advance, developing new applications which are particularly promising for the world of architecture. Now, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have demonstrated a new manufacturing process that can create 3D printed metal components with an unprecedented degree of precision. For architecture, this could mean greater control over the customization of the smallest components in buildings, as well as more carefully engineered properties of the larger ones.

The new technique involves an additive process in which successive layers of material are laid down with computer control and fused to create an object of almost any shape. As technology has progressed, printers have been able to progressively increase their resolution, enabling the creation of smaller parts with smoother surfaces. ORNL has developed a process that precisely manages the solidification of metal parts in each layer on a microscopic scale. This enables them to better control local material properties, which can have a profound impact on the strength, weight, and function of 3D printed metal components.

Read on to learn more about how this manufacturing process could shape the future of .

Autodesk Announces $100 Million Investment in 3D Printing

Many groups are working on innovative 3D Printing technologies, such as Emerging Objects’ designs for a 3D printed house made from locally harvested salt. Image © Emerging Objects

Autodesk has announced a new program which aims to invest up to $100 million in 3D printing companies over the next several years. The Spark Investment Fund will invest in innovative entrepreneurs, startups and researchers in the 3D printing field who ”push the boundaries of 3D printing technology and accelerate the new industrial revolution.”

The investment fund has been developed alongside Autodesk’s recently released Spark software, a free and open 3D printing platform which connects a wide range of 3D printing hardware and software, and can work with any material. The company hopes to encourage the 3D printing community to build upon and improve this software.

More on the fund after the break

5-Axis Milling: The Next Level In Accessible, Versatile Digital Fabrication

The 5AXISMAKER is a desktop 5-axis multi-fabrication CNC machine that hopes to expand the possibilities of digital fabrication by making it cheap and more versatile. Should the project receive backing on Kickstarter before the 27th October 2014, the possibility of 5-axis milling will become an affordable reality for manufacturing complex design prototypes. The product in development “provides a large cutting volume for it’s size, therefore producing “generously sized objects.” Developed by graduates of London’s Architectural Association, they hope to “shake the manufacturing world with new ways of fabricating using industrial robots right at your desk.”

NASA Tech Brief Awards Top Honors to Contour Crafting’s Automated Construction Methodology

© Contour Crafting

Behrokh Khoshnevis of the University of Southern has won Grand Prize in the NASA Tech Briefs magazine’s “Create the Future” contest for his entry, “Robotic Building Construction by Contour Crafting.” The revolutionary construction method was awarded for being a “major innovation” that could potentially 3D print entire neighborhoods in half the time and at 30 percent less cost than traditional building methods. 

Though some have visions of using Contour Crafting (CC) to sculpt the moon’s first settlements, Khoshnevis primary desire is combat the world’s housing shortage by using the automated construction method to rapidly deploy housing in impoverished and disaster areas.

More information and an interview with Khoshnevis on CNN, after the break. 

A Practical Study in the Discipline of Architectural Modelmaking

Courtesy of Laurence King Publishers

Why do we make models? From sketch maquettes and detail tests to diagrammatic and presentation models, the discipline of physically crafting ideas to scale is fundamental to the architect’s process. For architect and educator Nick Dunn, architectural models ultimately ”enable the designer to investigate, revise and further refine ideas in increasing detail until such a point that the project’s design is sufficiently consolidated to be constructed.” In Dunn’s second edition of his practical guide and homage to the architectural model, the significance and versatility of this medium is expertly visualised and analysed in a collection of images, explanations, and case studies.

Emerging Objects Design 3D Printed Salt House

Interior. Image © Emerging Objects

The architects of Emerging Objects have devised a scheme for a 3D printed house made from locally harvested salt and concrete. Known as the “3D Printed House 1.0,” the case study residence was commissioned by the Jin Hai Lake Resort Beijing. It integrates traditional construction methods with renewable 3D printed , manufactured by Emerging Objects, to build a house that is sustainable, structurally sound and beautiful.

How 3D Printing is Saving a Frank Lloyd Wright Treasure

© Flickr CC User Josh Hallett

Among the vast coverage of  in the media, the is frequently cited as the ‘future’ of production, focusing on its ability to bring new things into existence quickly and cheaply. But does have to be all about the future? As this article originally printed by Metropolis Magazine as3D Printing Saves a Frank Lloyd Wright Treasure attests, 3D printing also has something to offer to the past; specifically, to a deteriorating Frank Lloyd Wright building whose ‘textile block’ was simply too complex to restore through any other modern techniques. Read on after the break to find out how this high-tech rescue mission is being achieved.

Chinese Company Showcases Ten 3D-Printed Houses

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Chinese company WinSun Decoration Design Engineering has constructed a set of ten single story, 3D-printed homes which it produced in under 24 hours. The homes, printed in prefabricated panels which fit together on site, were created using WinSun’s custom-built 3D printer which measures 10 meters by 6.6 meters, and took the company twelve years to develop.

Formed with a cement-based mixture containing construction waste and fiber, each of the houses cost just $5,000 to build. Read on after the break for more on the development.

Animal Printheads, Biomimicry and More: How Nature Will Shape the Built Environment of the Future

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Biomimicry is quickly emerging as one of the next architectural frontiers. New manufacturing processes such as 3D printing, coupled with the drive to make buildings more environmentally sustainable, have led to a wave of projects that are derived from natural phenomena or even constructed with biological materials. A recent example of this trend is “Hy-Fi,” this summer’s MoMA PS1 design that is constructed of organic and compostable eco-bricks. Other projects such as MIT Media Lab’s Silk Pavilion have taken biological innovation a step further by actually using a biometric construction processes – around 6,500 silkworms wove the Silk Pavilion’s membrane. “Animal Printheads,” as Geoff Manaugh calls them in his article “Architecture-By-Bee and Other Animal Printheads,” have already proven to be a viable part of the manufacturing process in art, and perhaps in the future, the built environment as well. But what happens when humans engineer animals to 3D print other materials?

Why 3D Printing Is Not As Sustainable As Its Defenders Say

Yacht designed by Zaha Hadid. Could 3D Printing “someday make Hadid-like forms so cheap to execute that they become mundane”?. Image © Unique Circle Yachts / Zaha Hadid Architects for Bloom+Voss Shipyards

 is a column, penned by Christopher Brenny and presented by ArchDaily Materials, which investigates the innovative applications of  in architecture.

On a purely aesthetic level, 3D printing holds great potential for buildings – all the possibilities of sculpted concrete without the bulky and expensive formwork. Taken to an extreme, it could someday make Hadid-like forms so cheap to execute that they become mundane (even for a non-architect) – maybe even causing the profession to re-evaluate what qualifies as high design. 

However, the more important advantage of 3D printing, what could spur its acceptance as a viable means of construction, is its supposed . Among its oft-cited advantages are a use of “green” and a reduction in construction waste. However, is 3D Printing really as sustainable as its defenders contend?  

IAAC Invents a Family of Robots to 3D Print Structures of Any Size

The Grip Robot applies further layers to build up the shell. Image Courtesy of

One of the major challenges in translating 3D Printing technology into architecture has been the issue of scale. So far, this has generally resulted in ever larger printers, with one of the most successful examples being the KamerMaker, which has been used to 3D print a Dutch Canal House in 2x2x3.5 metre chunks. However, recognizing the limitations on the size of 3D printers, the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia () has developed a family of three small, mobile robots which together can print a structure of any size.

Read on after the break for more on the process.

VIDEO: 3D Printing San Francisco’s Future Skyline

The skyline of San Francisco is in the process of significant transformation. Projects such as OMA‘s 550-foot residential tower, as well as developments in the pipeline from Foster + Partners and Studio Gang, are sure to change the city dramatically – thankfully, the 3D printed model in this video is there to show exactly how. The 6×6 foot model shows 115 blocks of downtown San Francisco as it will appear in 2017, and was created by visualization company Steelblue and Autodesk. Claimed to be the largest 3D printed model of a city in the world, it can show much more than just how San Francisco’s downtown will look: overlaid projections can show the status of each building, projected traffic patterns and more. Furthermore, each block is individually replaceable to keep the model up to date. Watch the video, and find out more about the model through this article from SFGate.

MIT Develops Self-Assembling, Easy-Bake Robots

MIT has developed a way to 3D print sheets of material that self-assemble when baked. With inspiration from Japanese origami, researchers have developed — among other objects — robots. Head researcher Daniela Rus is already looking for potential applications saying, ”I want a that will play with my cat.” Check out the full article at HNGN to learn more and watch a video of the assembly in action.

Arup Develops 3D Printing Technique for Structural Steel

© David de Jong

A team lead by Arup has developed a method of designing and 3D Printing steel joints which will significantly reduce the time and cost needed to make complex nodes in tensile structures. Their research is being touted as “a whole new direction for the use of additive manufacturing” which provides a way of taking “firmly into the realm of real-world, hard hat construction.”

Aside from creating more elegant components which express the forces within each individual joint - as you can see in the above photo – the innovation could potentially reduce costs, cut waste and slash the carbon footprint of the construction sector.

Read on for more on this breakthrough

Seaweed, Salt, Potatoes, & More: Seven Unusual Materials with Architectural Applications

The “Saltygloo” project is an igloo made of printed translucent modular salt panels. Image Courtesy of Matthew Millman

The following article is presented by ArchDaily Materials. In this article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine, Lara Kristin Herndon and Derrick Mead explore seven innovative architectural and the designers behind them. Some are byproducts, some will help buildings breathe and one is making the leap from 3D printing to .

When Arthur C. Clarke said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, he was speaking from the spectator’s point of view, not the magician’s. As our list of smart materials shows, technology solves difficult problems, but getting there requires more than just a wave of the magic wand. Each of the following projects looks past easy answers. Whether it’s a new way of looking at old problems, a new material that maximizes the efficiency of an old technique, or a new method to tap the potential of an abundant or underutilized resource, here are seven innovators who take technology out of the realm of science fiction.