The transformative 3D printing technology is revolutionising the science and aesthetics of production. With this technology, any design can come alive, be it in medical science, space exploration, education, science, fashion or the field of construction.
3D Printing is a technology, in which a three-dimensional object can be constructed out of its digital model. This is achieved by an ‘additive’ process, whereby layers of materials are laid down using a nozzle that is best described as a futuristic hot glue gun, in different shapes.
And 3D printers come in sizes ranging from smaller than a microwave to bigger than a house. They use materials like resin, plastic and metal, among others.
Applying this technique to a unique project is Dus Architects, who are an international team of partners linking science, design, construction and community by 3D-printing a canal house at an expo-site in the very heart of Amsterdam. It is said that the project will take three years to complete.
An industrial scale 3D printer called the KamerMaker or the RoomBuilder is being put to use to create the plastic and foam parts. These parts will be fused together to create the walls and furniture.
A parallel technology called Contour Crafting (CC) facilitates the entire construction piece of building to be squeezed into a single day. The Khoshnevis or ‘Contour Crafter’ works with the base of computerised drawings.
But these weren’t the first of their kind. Experiments in 3D-printed architecture had already begun with the world’s first three-dimensional printed room mid last year, called the Digital Grotesque (project). Described as an ‘architecture between chaos and order’, this elaborate 11-tonne installation is printed with millions of indescribably detailed surfaces and standing almost 11 feet tall by 52 feet wide.
The room that looks like an architectural fragment from a more decorative era was crafted by two architects: Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburge, who are both architects and programmers, and explore the use of algorithms fabrication methods for architectural purposes.
The duo printed in large chunks over the course of a month, and then brought together the pieces and assembled them together in one day.
Moving on to the more docile, but no less ground-breaking use of Additive Manufacturing, which happens to be another name for 3D Printing, is home decor. This ‘motorised conjurer’ creates every home accent, from fixture to furniture.
What makes this printing method covetable is how it circumvents all conventional fabrication methods.
For example, Swedish company Gässling launched its innovative Breaking Bulbs collection, a range of 3D printed lamps capturing that split second in time when an object is destroyed on impact. The over-sized bulb-shaped lamps appear to shatter as if they have been dropped, smashed and even shot through with a bullet.
Apart from stand-alone designs that are flooding the market, interesting associations also exist, like the one where Karim Rashid, an industrial designer and interior architect, teamed up with Dutch Leapfrog 3D Printers to offer seven of his designs for printing at home.
From an industry-wide perspective, Gartner, leading information technology research and advisory agency, states that, “The 3D printer market has reached its inflection point.”
And this is where we, Clear Estate, slide the view finder over to the Indian subcontinent, where the impact of 3D printing is discernible over the last three years in the form of multiple small players partaking of their share of the fledgling 3D printing market.
Small-scale 3D printer manufacturers, such as LBD Makers and Brahma3, and designers of printers like Sharkbot and KCbot are targeting hobbyists, universities and small offices.
They retail their printers, starting as low as Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 1.5 lakh. And the predominant use of these machines is to validate industrial prototypes more than mass production. These prototypes could belong to the automobile and factory machinery industries.
The rather overwhelming application of 3D printing is in architecture, where three-dimensional models of projects are commissioned with increasing regularity. This is steady replacement of the painstaking modeling crafted out of cardboard and Styrofoam.
Skylar Tibbits, Research Scientist in MIT’s Department of Architecture is shaping the next development, which he calls 4D printing, where the fourth dimension is time. This emerging technology will allow us to print objects that then reshape themselves or self-assemble over time
Think: a printed cube that folds before your eyes, or a printed pipe able to sense the need to expand or contract
3D Printing is disruptive at its meekest and like every uber-creative phenomenon before it, such as the Internet or social media or the industrial revolution, it will change life as we know it.
content credit: 3dprintcanalhouse.com, contourcrafting.org, freshome.com, dezeen.com, interiordesign.net, gartner.com, livemint.com, skyscraperpage.com, inhabitat.com, imaginarium.co.in, ted.com