3D DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
Products that are 3D in form, and 3D printing is substantially impacting design and J S D A is experimenting with all of these advances. Drawing with 3D digital pens, and printing in 3D we can create anything we imagine, from manufactured parts to sculptural dresses to construction. We utilize ArchiCAD 20 in order to export out to a stereo lithography (.stl) file that the 3D printer reads. We have applied 3D printing capabilities on a recent construction site, where solutions are sketched in CAD, produced within 24 hours, and our ideas are ready for review and experimentation at the job site.
We utilized 3D printing for advantage: speed and cost. We needed a fabricated part to meet a certain dimension, which was unavailable through traditional resources. Our client had CNC (computer numerical control) machines that could accomplish the rapid fabrication of the part, so it was produced in their metal fab shop. The computer controls the subtractive cutting and shaping of the solid material. As the cutter spins at high speed, and travels through the x, y and z coordinates, it cuts and shapes the block. We then installed it at the jobsite as a component part of a custom mobile desking cart, providing the link to adjustable ergonomic height at the work surface.
Other methods incorporated included reused metal with water-jet cutting for environmental art and a Stratsys 3D printer for some of the 3D graphics we designed. The client had a printer, which utilizes two special plastic polymers, an off-white and black. We utilized corporate graphic standards to build a 3D font family from the typographic standards, and exported them to the polymer printer with pre-sets for screw alignment. We bent a piece of galvanized metal, water-jetted the same pre-set screw location and mounted the letters directly to the galvanized metal, which was suspended on a perforated panel at the load-out door.
Construction will most certainly transform to take advantage of 3D printing and we are actively looking for opportunities to experiment at J S D A. Onsite printing and assembly is projected. 3D printers that can make bricks, print continuously and move along rails as it builds bridges, as well as extruded concrete in repetitive ‘build-up’ forms are possible. Some believe that only the architect or designer’s imagination limits the shape of a building. At Loughborough University in the UK, Foster + Partners concrete based computer controlled extrusions are in formative stages. Stay tuned.