Printing Buildings

Printing in three dimensions has become an emerging tool for designers. Rather than using traditionally subtractive methods of construction, like carving and sculpting, 3D-Printing binds material together, thus creating very little waste. It has typically been limited to somewhat small scales as the technology is only now reaching past prototypical stages. A new form of this new technology is on the horizons, though. Soon it will be possible to print not just a scale model of your building, but the building itself.

The D-Shape printer in progress.

Enrico Dini had the vision of this exact feat and has since founded the company Monolite UK, which produces machinery for the prototype D-Shape printer. Dini’s perhaps utopian vision is to, according to the D-Shape website, “enables architects to directly make the buildings they design”. Essentially, the structure is able to print CAD models in 6 meter cubic modules. By spraying a magnesium-based binding agent onto sand, dust, or gravel, it is possible to expedite the process of creating stone from several thousand years to mere hours. Give your printed model a day or two, and you can go from sand to stone.

Creator of D-Shape, Enrico Dini, inside one of his larger sandstone creations.

Whether this new model of building design will catch on remains to be seen. Currently, it is too early to see as this technology has not been made public yet. The thought of removing the entire construction business in select circumstances, though, does not sit well with me. In terms of maintaining economic stability, there are a multitude of careers that depend on various aspects of building design and construction.




One comment

  1. I thought this was an interesting post because of how it is implied: that perhaps someday, buildings might be built without much of human labor. I think it is right some some extent, but I think the use or CNC.routers and other similar robotic machines that make models will only be limited to just that (Making models). It will be nice to think a machine can put a building into its place. Obviously due to the different materials that have to go into making a building and the size of a building, i don’t think a machine can come close to erecting a building. When we start looking into the details of a building and how each piece goes together, there is no way a machine can come close to doing that. Yes building blocks or prints can be made using a machine along with other pieces, it will still take human labor to erect a building. So i don’t see any threat with the construction industry and time soon. Jobs will still be there for everyone. The only threat thus far is the ability to buy drafting software and design a building, which a lot of people are doing. That has lowered the need for companies to hire drafters, or possible clients to hire an architect. Nowadays, it seems like most home buildings use software and design their building before getting an architect or go over it. At the end of the day, I feel the construction industry is safe for now because I don’t think machines will take over the construction industry.

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