Is This Really An $8M 3D Printed Home?

By on October 15th, 2018 in coverage

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 Is this fabulous wall 3D printed? [Source: Mario Romano]
Is this fabulous wall 3D printed? [Source: Mario Romano]

I’m reading a very curious report on Forbes describing an expensive California home that’s partially 3D printed, apparently.

The report, entitled “Santa Monica Home With 3D-Printed Light Walls Lists For $8 Million”, says:

“The home’s entertainment room feature what’s touted as the world’s first lighted architectural 3D-printed wall. But before you witness that spectacle, you’re greeted at the front gate by a captivating exterior—a two-story, 3D-printed wall with an energy-efficient rain screen façade adjacent to an 11-foot-tall pivot door entrance crafted from skateboard decks. That’s so California (birthplace of the skateboard).”

The aforementioned entertainment room feature is seen at top.

This is quite curious to me, as I have not seen finely detailed large-scale 3D prints of this type previously. The article mentions two 3D printed elements, one being an outdoor feature.

In fact, 3D printing of architectural elements is really still at the experimental stage. Still, the design builder behind this work, Mario Romano, could be on to something we don’t yet understand.

But as a design builder, he is responsible for the design of the entire home, and a 3D printed element would be only one of many subcontracts dispatched from the Santa Monica project. Romano must get his 3D prints made by someone else, likely a company we are familiar with. But who?

Watching the video of the Santa Monica project might reveal how it was done:

But no, it does not. However, it does show a fabulous design that I would be very happy to live within. It’s a top-notch design project. What a design!

Perhaps Romano’s website explains how the 3D printing was accomplished? The product he markets these walls is called “M.R. Walls”. Regarding these walls, the site says:

“M.R. Walls are easily installed in wet rooms, showers, kitchens… or can flow up and around windows and turn corners. They are nearly indestructible. Using Corian by Dupont, each piece is carved and labeled, then delivered and assembled on-site without any visible seams. Bonded together with matching adhesive, the walls are impervious to mold, virus, and bacterial. They are completely water proof and offer a finish solution in one step. No painting, No sanding. No grout. Simply bond the pieces together and attach to drywall with silicone.”

Aha! They are made from Corian, a rock-like material typically used for tiles. But I’ve never heard ofv it being 3D printed. Then the site says:

“Already installed in numerous high-end homes in Los Angeles, M.R. Walls is a break out design language and innovated manufacturing using the latest in parametric computing and CNC machining technology. Installed by local carpenters, Corian fabricators, or tile subs with online support, the wall system enables the beauty of complexity to be experienced, touched and even showered in. Engineered to endure, these highly durable walls are reasonably priced, bringing a high level of design possibilities never before offered.”


These were NOT 3D printed. They were CNC milled.

Evidently Romano takes large sheets of Corian and CNC cuts out intricate 3D patterns. The results are truly stunning and clearly valuable.

But they are not 3D printed.

Why would Forbes describe this project as 3D printed? The days of 3D print hype are long past, so there should not be any notable boost to using “3D printing” in the title.

It could be simply that the author does not understand the difference between CNC and 3D printing, which are quite unalike. CNC milling is a subtractive process where material is removed, while 3D printing starts with nothing and adds material.

However, both processes involve the creation of a 3D model, which is then deployed on the respective technologies in different ways.

It seems the public has yet to learn what 3D printing really is – and isn’t.

Via Forbes and Mario Romano

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!