As it is with any other budding technology, there is a lot that we yet have to learn and overcome to be able to really utilize the full potential of 3D printing. A Doctor of Architecture from Australia, James Gardiner, is convinced that the future is not that far away.
He sees the entire application of 3D printing from a little bit different perspective – how to achieve something unique, efficient, and inexpensive at the same time. His idea is based on the fact that 3D printing is very easily applicable in architecture for producing one-of-a-kind molds for panels and concrete components.
This idea is interesting for more than one reason, because contemporary standards, mass production and technology available to industry carry a lot of limitations. Originality and uniqueness cost a lot more in such a system, and the applicability and functionality themselves are brought into question. 3D printing enables production of molds and one-of-a-kind designs, just as functioning prototypes and test materials, in significantly less time, and with significantly smaller expenses.
Dr. Gardiner decided to demonstrate applicability of his idea in development of 3D printed artificial coral reefs.
“A large number of existing artificial coral reefs is made of simple and cheap materials which are not adequate for the original purpose.” - Dr. James Gardiner
As Dr. Gardiner states, homogenous and simple materials are not the most suitable for development of marine life. One of the reasons is the fact that artificial coral reefs are most often made of concrete, and water currents can easily remove young corals that have just started to develop from the smooth surface.
Marine biology experts agree with Dr. Gardiner on that the complex surface could help in retaining living organisms on the artificial reefs. However, they too are aware that 3D technology is still at the early stage of development, so they do not believe it will be put into practice shortly.
“Complexity of a reef’s structure is not only good for diversity of species that live on it, but it can also have a great significance in tourism development.” - David Lennon, Reef Design Lab
The very organic nature of the structure and the way the structure itself is fitted into environment are what attracted other experts to join Dr. Gardiner’s project. Many of them state that this architect’s ideas are indeed revolutionary.
Working on preservation of environment is an exceptionally important aspect of this project, but many other things can be learnt from it. This potential was noticed by Dr. Gardiner’s colleagues, so they begun to develop the biggest 3D printer in the world. The general idea is that wax molds for concrete components be made with its assistance. The future of architecture looks pretty interesting because of great detail and precision of 3D printing.
“With the help of 3D printing we can work out all kinds of components and in that way make a unique combination of aesthetics, structural integrity, acoustics, lights… We can make a significant difference in the entire building industry.” - Dr. James Gardiner
Dr. Gardiner participated in numerous exhibitions with his work, but what he is in fact attempting to do is to raise awareness in young architects. The general point is to induce young people to think in an innovative and original way. Fitting organic aesthetics in design can be a very interesting, but also a functional trend.
Major principles of organic architecture are establishing harmony between man and nature, and with 3D printing assistance, those principles look very close. Does that mean that in a couple of years we will have an opportunity to live in a world from science fiction movies? Not exactly, but we will have a chance to defeat many problems we have been meeting in architecture and building.
Dr. Gardiner and his team scratched the surface in applying new technologies in architecture. Their goal and basic aspiration is to pave the way for young generations of architects and building engineers and show them that practically nothing is impossible nowadays.
Assembling of molds and parts of constructions which are one-of-a-kind and provide practically unlimited opportunities is just one of possible scenarios that await us. What we can vouch for sure - 3D technology is definitely one of key aspects of future in architecture.
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