By Alec | 3ders
The innovative strength of 3D printing technology seems to know no bounds and looks set to change construction industries just as it does to aerospace, automobile, toy, utensil, medical, food and chemical industries.
There are multiple potential on-going projects working on 3D printing walls and entire homes. Just look at the various projects Italian construction printer Enrico Dini has worked on, on the on-going estate 3D printing project of famed New York architect Adam Kushner and the Chinese 3D printed house.
And we've just learned of a new and highly ambitious project that could be set to change our entire outlook on 3D printing and the construction industry. For a new digital fabrication start-up business called Chorogenesis has recently revealed its intentions of 'disrupting construction' as we know it.
They revealed that their brand new and revolutionary 3D printing technology (which they referred to as 6D printing, though I'm not quite sure what the other three dimensions are) will be showcased in a futuristic and inspiring construction project called Nautilus Genesis Resort, that is set to begin in March 2015. The structure will feature a shell-shaped structure that shows off the technology's functions.
It's reported to cost 5 million dollars. However, it's still not quite clear where that project will be hosted; either in Greece, Dubai or another, undisclosed location. After successfully finishing this project, the company will seek to sell its services to other innovating construction companies. They will also host a series of concomitant projects that capture the essence of their 6D printing process.
This London-based start-up has been largely shrouded in mystery since its early beginnings in 2010, being inspired by the 'need to develop a complex construction project' that would inspire the construction industry to catch up to the modern world. As Vassilios Vassiliadis, Chorogenesis's chief information architect revealed in an interview, digital technology is changing everything, and will unavoidably change construction as well: 'cameras have changed, photocopiers have changed. The goal is to position ourselves in this new market and new landscape.'
When first beginning to work on this project, they chose secrecy while developing their required materials, tools, hardware and software. Since then, 'the project got out of stealth and is now accelerating towards expansion. We are actively forming strategic partnerships and developing the technology and business processes that will enable the construction community to move to the new era of construction.'
Of course the real question is: what is this 6D printing process all about, and how is it different from other construction printing projects? However, much about this company is still shrouded in secrets; while their website has recently shared more information, their actual printing technology is still largely mysterious. Chief architect Vassilios Vassiliadis also wasn't keen to share the secrets of the company's intellectual property, though he did elaborate a bit.
Primarily, he argued that their construction method shares some similarities with the projects of its competitors like the Italian Dini, but is several paces ahead of those systems. Like its competitors, the Chorogenesis method is essential an extrusion system built around a robotic arm attached to a gantry, but one capable of extruding several components and materials at the same time (like geopolymers and bioplastics), creating composite structures with varying properties. 'The head will extrude multiple different materials, for instance with different consistencies, or energy-storing properties. All the elements such as pipes for plumbing, electrical cables and ducts can be embedded in the structure.'
Their shell-shaped showcase structure will thus include various systems coping with energy supply and storage. The walls will feature passive heating and cooling systems, while maintaining a very low carbon footprint. It will also, he assures reporters, be in full compliance with existing construction codes. The majority of the structure is also set to be printed on site, though 'elements that are not designed to be embedded, in the structure are digitally fabricated off site by the company and precisely placed in position.'
As part of the development of their 6D construction method, they have been working with a group of unnamed industrial partners, including a Danish company who developed their BIM software platform and 'a company that is experienced in producing manufacturing equipment for the concrete industry' who developed their print head. A third company had been hired to perfect their robotics setup.
Chorogenesis is currently working on the final stages of their development and fund-raising stages, of which the latter will likely influence the location of their construction project. However, their chief architect already seems very hopeful about their success, and of the success of 3D printing (or 6D) in the construction industry. For he argued that it doesn't just bring technological innovation to the table; more significantly, 'it reduces the cost – you have less labour and you don't have mistakes.' And that's something this industry will surely benefit from.
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