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3d Printed Architecture

By Expert Author: John Joel

Smith and Allen are a collaborative duo working out of Oakland, California, USA. They have recently made history by creating the first 3D printed architectural structure built using only 3D printing. It may look small, but think about what this could mean for the future.Named Echoviren, the 10 x 10 x 8 foot pavilion was completed last weekend. The structure wasn’t built using a massive 3D printer. It consists of 585 individually printed components produced on seven series of 3D printers.

“It took the printers two months and 10,800 hours to print the components, but just four days to assemble them on site. The components, each measuring up to 10 x 10 inches, were snapped together to create a perforated structure resembling an igloo with an opening at the top. Each component is made of a plant-based PLA bio-plastic, meaning the structure will decompose over time, disappearing within 30-50 years. In the meantime, the plants and animals in this redwood forest will be able to use it for their own little habitats. The overall form is driven by the structural requirements of building in PLA. The section is pyramidal so each of the walls is self-supporting. As the structure is completed it becomes a compression structure with the top most layers forming a compression ring.”

Conceptualized as part of the arts residency initiative Project 387, Echoviren is the world’s largest 3D printed art installation. Echoviren’s name connotes the technological echo of a 3D printed structure over natural habitats. The structure was entirely 3D printed at home (the duo used consumer grade 3D printers). The total cost of the material was approximately $6,000. . Typically, art installation structures take time. In addition, they are costly affairs that can run into tens of millions of dollars. Smith and Allen accomplished their installation at a fraction of the normal cost and time of an average art installation.

Bryan Allen, who designed the structure along with his partner Stephanie Smith, says it is a “space for contemplation.” Smith adds that the name is also a reference to the continuously-changing landscape of California. “It is a dialogue with nature and its history,” she says. According to Allen, compression of creative technologies such as 3D printing and CAD software has enabled a “Swiss army knife of materials” for people interested in making things.

The fact that they could build such a huge structure using basic materials represents a “fundamental disruption of the chain of command in architecture,” Both are alumni of UC Berkeley’s School of Architecture. Instead of the taking the usual career path of slaving over CAD drawings as draughts men in an architect’s office, Allen and Smith chose to experiment with emerging technology in this space and are enthusiastic about its possibilities. 3D printing democratizes the printing process so that anybody can have access to the parts they need and manufacture themselves.

There are many architects and designers who are working on creating the first actual house built from only 3D printing. It will be interesting to see what the first one looks like. Can you several being made as we speak. Imagine being the first person to live in a house that was 3D printed? Its Coming…


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