This past year I read an article on Forbes about the nascent 3D printing movement and a young man named Cody Wilson who literally printed himself a working gun.
His single shot pistol, which he dubbed the “Liberator” after the one-shot pistols air-dropped by the Allies over Nazi-occupied France during World War II, spawned widespread controversy when his company, Defense Distributed, released plans for the gun over the Internet.
Although the plans were taken down after a take down order by U.S. State Department, by the time they were, the plans had been downloaded tens of thousands of times (and, as we know, once on the Internet, always on the Internet). Wilson’s fame (or notoriety) even landed him as number 14 on Wired’s 15 Most Dangerous People in the World.
So, what does this have to do with construction?
Well, although 3D printing is still in its infancy, and its potential uses beyond printing your next iPhone case or AK-47 are still being explored, at least some believe that 3D printing can be used to print your next building.
Earlier this year, Dutch architectural firm DUS, turned concept into reality with the creation of the 3D Print Canal House in the heart of of Amsterdam, a demonstration project described as an “exhibition, research and building site for 3D Printing Architecture.”
See video here.
The house is still in the process of being constructed . . . err . . . printed, and the designers say that 3D printing will open up a range of new possibilities including more personalization, faster construction, reduced transportation costs, and use of recycled materials that can be reused later. And, since I’m sure you have the same question I did, the 3D printer they are using was custom made.
The 3D printing of buildings, which some have called Contour Crafting, is also not limited to plastic structures. A professor at the University of Southern California, Behrokh Khoshnevis, has, at least in concept, developed a model that uses a large scale 3D printer that can print in concrete. One Chinese company has already used 3D printing technology to “print” 10 houses in one day.
And here you thought you were already paying a lot for ink.