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.
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.
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.