Is the Revolution of 3D-Printed Building Getting Closer?

By on February 12, 2019

From CityLab:  There’s a soft buzzing sound coming from a tent that stands next to a hotel in a village in the Netherlands. Inside, an arm attached to a large orange-and-black printer on tracks applies concrete to a disc, like frosting on a cake. This is followed by a second layer. A man operates the laptop that’s connected to the printer.

Here in Teuge, about 60 miles east of Amsterdam, a small building is being assembled layer by layer with a 3D printer.

The building will be called De Vergaderfabriek, Dutch for “the Meeting Factory.” According to the companies behind the project, it will be the world’s first 3D-printed meeting space. The roughly 1,000-square-foot structure was supposed to be done months ago, but a neighbor objected to the project, which held it up. The local municipality also thought the original design wasn’t appropriate for the site, so the architect, Pim van Wylick, revised it, making the building smaller and shorter.

3D printing is sometimes hailed as a revolution for architecture and construction. Enthusiasts say the technology is much faster and cheaper than conventional building, and that it has a smaller environmental footprint. But so far, machine-printed buildings have not materialized in significant numbers. Most examples are one-offs and are not fully habitable. The technology is hard to reconcile with building codes, and large-scale printers are scarce and expensive.

However, robotic architecture is still maturing. Recent examples include an office space in Copenhagen (2017) and a micro-home in Amsterdam (2016). Last March, an Austin startup named Icon debuted a tiny 3D-printed house, built in less than 48 hours, at South by Southwest. The company has partnered with the non-profit New Story on a plan to construct dozens of 3D-printed homes in El Salvador.

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