Architect and MIT professor Neri Oxman has been investigating new techniques for applying 3D printing to the science of building construction. We previously wrote of Neri Oxman’s exploits with MaterialEcology, where she leveraged the synergy of computing, ecology, material engineering and design to produce experimental forms.
Now she’s investigating the issue of building materials. Today’s construction materials are “dumb” in that they are totally uniform in composition, since they must be used to solve arbitrary building problems. But what if the building problem was known? What if the building components could be custom made to precisely suit the physical situation it will become part of?
Imagine girders that have strong areas where they need to be strong, and light in other areas – or even sparse sections with no material at all! Every piece could be specifically made to provide the best physical strength for its particular purpose in the building at the least cost of materials. But how would this work?
… input data about physical stresses on a structure, as well as design constraints such as size, overall shape, and the need to let in light into certain areas of a building. Based on this information, the software applies algorithms to specify how the material properties need to change throughout a structure.
A load-bearing wall could be printed in elaborate patterns that correspond to the stresses it will experience from the load it supports from wind or earthquakes, for instance.
In non-load bearing areas, it could also be possible to print concrete that’s so porous that light can penetrate, or to mix the concrete gradually with transparent materials.
This is a very different approach to applying 3D printing to building construction; other approaches we’ve seen generally involve creating a massive concrete-extruding 3D printer to print an entire building at once. Oxman’s new approach might be more practical and enable the development of radically different structures, since it can be used as much or as little as desired; an entire building could be built using the technique, or simply one advanced beam in a conventional building.
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!
Swapnil Sinha is a PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University whose research in additive manufacturing shows strength for the future of both DfAM and in-situ embedding in 3D printed parts.
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Welcome to Fabbaloo, one of the world’s oldest online news sources for 3D printing news. We’ve been in operation since 2007, where we first started examining the state of 3D printers. These devices are now relatively common among some circles in today’s world, but years ago it was extremely rare to see a 3D printer or even a 3D printed object.
At that time it was challenging to find any 3D printing news, so we decided to make our own site that covered 3D printer news, and even associated technologies like 3D scanning and 3D modeling. Today it is common to find 3D printers in schools, workshops and makerspaces, and you probably have been using 3D printed objects without even knowing they were 3D printed.
Today’s industry has finally taken up the challenge by installing thousands of industrial 3D printers, each producing previously impossible 3D printed parts that make today’s society far more efficient. The aerospace industry in particular has been producing many 3D printed parts, some even for flight critical purposes.
If you want to learn about 3D printers, then there’s no better place than Fabbaloo’s 3D printer news to see the latest happenings.
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