29 June 2009

Print This!!!

The amazing sandstone sculpture pictured above will be "printed out" as a 10-metre tall pavilion -- to be built in Pontedera, Italy, in 2010. It takes little imagination to see fantastically imaginative houses and other buildings constructed using the same "printer" approach. The materials used are simply sand or mineral dust combined with an inorganic binder. The final sandstone material has passed a large array of traction, compression and bending tests with flying colours. In other words, the building approach is capable of scaling safely at least to the 10-metre scale structure to be built in Italy. Suitable reinforcing nano-fibres can be included as scaling requires.

Such sandstone buildings would blend well in a desert environment. The thermal characteristics of thick sandstone walls are suitable for dry climates with severe temperature swings.

But I am more excited by the potential of this building technique for printing other types of structures, using alternative building "inks." In particular, nano-porous "inks" with suitable binding agents could print a wide array of sturdy floating structures capable of serving as seasteads in many waters of the world. Check out the "Sea Foam Colony" idea for a similar approach to extruding a seastead.

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Blogger Loren said...

So how do you "print" the plumbing and electrical connections?

Monday, 29 June, 2009  
Blogger al fin said...

Keep in mind that electrical connections in microelectronics chips are "printed".

For a printed house, you could either print the raceways, then feed the conductors through -- or actually print the conductors using metallic ink.

The piping for plumbing could be conceivably handled the same way. Print the open spaces then feed flexible plastic pipes through, or actually print pipes using a plastic or composite ink.

I suspect that printing out duct work and refrigerant conduit for HVAC systems would be equally easy. Heat exchangers for efficient continuous fresh air ventilation could also be printed.

This technology is similar to the popular desktop rapid prototypers that engineers and designers use to produce quick models and prototypes.

Molecular nano-assembly will achieve a much finer level of detail, of course, so building any size conductor, pipe, or other electro-mechanical device or conduit would be child's play.

Monday, 29 June, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard some time back about how archeologists were using the magnetic properties of pot which "freezes" in place when fired to assist in dating finds based on the earth's magnetic field at the time. Since most sand contains some iron particles which would probably be frozen in place when the substance hardens, it might be useful for future archeologists to reconstruct information about our civilization after it collapses.

Tuesday, 30 June, 2009  

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