January 14 2015
Printing the Built Environment
The physical representation of ideas, particularly in the realm of architecture and building construction, is an important tool in the realization of ideas for architects, engineers, and designers. Leon Battista Alberti once proposed that architecture was an idea originating in the mind of the architect before it appeared in physical material. Hence, the physical model allows the idea to be studied and expressed in three-dimensions.
Similarly, engineering can be regarded as the physical manifestation of mathematical and mechanical logic to rationalize a structure. What could be a more elegant structural solution than the fine balance of technical, creative, and artistic reasoning?
“3D printing has come a long way in both affordability and quality of product. It allows designers to realize their design in physical form.”
This rationale is an important step in Entuitive’s approach to developing and imagining creative solutions to complex problems. Advanced computational approaches to developing structural solutions have opened new doors to the way engineers can envision designs. At the same time new technologies have allowed designers to realize complex ideas and systems in the physical realm.
3D printing has come a long way in both affordability and quality of product. It allows designers to realize their design in physical form. Entuitive is excited to take and use this technology to explore new ways of designing, constructing and maintaining buildings.
Image from FormLabs
With the imminent arrival of our Form1+3D printer we are excited to begin exploring new uses with 3D printing including:
- Creation of almost any complex form or assembly that becomes a tangible, tactile visualization for both the engineering team and the client.
- Achieve a sense scale and “weight of structure” that cannot always be achieved with a 3D model on a 2D screen.
- Create models which emphasize structural load paths within a structure for team visualization and for client understanding
- Allow our Building Envelope group to develop complex connections or 3D mullion cutaways to explore taking advantage of different materials.
- Have fun within this creative outlet! Allowing our teams to express their creativity and ingenuity through the use of advanced modeling techniques right through to a 3D printed design allows Entuitive’s creative juices to flow.
Of course this is just scratching the surface of what is possible. 3D printing is a disruptive technology impacting industry today. Researchers and businesses are finding applications for 3D printing for a wide array of things ranging from on-demand consumer goods to printing objects in outer space. The potential benefits to the architecture, engineering and construction sectors are numerous including rapid prototyping, opening new design possibilities and potential cost savings on labour, materials and transportation. It’s difficult to find an industry that will not be impacted by this technology—if not in the production of final parts, then in prototyping and testing of new designs.
Image from The Verge
Already, there are a number of initiatives around the globe that are beginning to explore 3D printing to construct building components and, in some cases, entire structures. In Shanghai, the Chinese company WinSun has built houses using large 3D printers employing a mixture of quick drying cement and recycled raw materials. Dutch firm Universe Architecture is preparing to 3D print two-storey house, onsite, in concrete and in one go using the D-Shape printer. In yet another initiative, Softkill Design used 3D printing to develop the Protohouse which focused on structural optimization and is an example of construction that truly would be impossible with bricks and mortar.
Ultimately, we believe that, when used effectively, 3D printing can help produce stronger designs and improved collaboration resulting in better building performance. We’ll keep you posted on our exploration.