Thursday, October 16, 2014

My Digitally Fabricated World

Issue 4- The 3D Printed Canal House

By Donald Olsen

In the last year there has been much to do about the possibilities that 3D printing could bring to both the building/ designing profession. Most people don’t hold the idea of the 3D printed house in much high regard (especially those in the building industry). For most people there was the argument of whether it was even possible to design and 3D print an entire house in a relatively decent time line. Most of these worries were due to the size of printer’s available right now and their limitations. To fit into the same suit as some of my previous posted people breaking ground into new territory within the 3D printed realm, Dus Architects out of Amsterdam went and designed their own 3d printer. This massive machine can be loaded on a semi and be dropped off at any site to begin 3D printing elements of a house or structure. Dus Architects is currently embarking on what looks like a fruitful endeavor, they are attempting to 3d Print the first canal house in Amsterdam. The building is still under construction but strives to test the waters of the 3D printed house. They have said that they aren’t trying to create a fully functional home but are more making an attempt to test material longevity and structural capabilities. The Canal house is being printed out of PLA plastic.
The pieces are design to clip together like large LEGO pieces, and the void spaces within the blocks will later be filled with a spray foam for insulation purposes. There are pieces, both exterior and exterior, that are designed to accommodate things like plumbing, wiring, and other building elements within in most homes. Again these things are the true purpose of this project, to test the capabilities of the predesign, testing the need for onsite changes, and the ease in which all these systems can be added to the printed structure.  If the Canal House building works in terms of structural stability and materiality, they will also succeed in other ways. All the interior walls will be clipped in a way that they can be easily removed and the entire house can be disassembled and completely relocated without much expected issues. They will have created the first 3D printed home with integrated amenities. As of right now there are other companies developing 3D printed homes. The one making major news these days is a Chinese company WinSun Decoration Design Engineering that was able to create ten 3D printed structures in one day at the cost of $5,000 each.

The 3D printer that WinSun has developed uses a concrete mixture as its medium. Despite these house probably already having some intrinsic materiality perks they are very simple structures that really only consist of two walls, a floor, and a roof made of concrete, and two window walls which would include the doors. WinSun has also said that they are hoping that these could be a start to larger structures even skyscrapers, which I’m sure eventually could be possible, but as of now they are still fairly simple buildings that have no plumbing, or power.  There are all in all great value in both projects, one offers opportunities at future large structures, the other offers possibilities at a smaller scale. I think at this point its still early in the 3D structures game but there are great strides being made towards open source homes. For a moment, imagine a world where you can go to a hardware store conglomerate and rent two large printers, have them dropped off at your plot of land, and plug in a design that you found online of a home you liked. There would be nothing left to do, but make sure the machines ran without issue. Once finished either assemble or  call out trades to add your plumbing, insulation, and wiring. It’s crazy to think that this could be a future we are slowly headed towards. Of course you need to crawl before you can run, but I will for sure enjoy watching the progress. Next time I will bring together what I’ve talked about in the previous issues and how they all tie together with the thesis I’m proposing to do here at SIU. Till next time keep fabricating.      

Canal House Information and Pictures credit:
WinSun Information Pictures Credit:

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