This is a picture of the Radiolaria pavilion, a complex, free-form structure produced using the world’s largest 3D printer. Measuring 3 x 3 x 3 metres, the structure is a scale model of a final 10-metre tall pavilion to be built in Pontedera, Italy, in 2010.
From Earth Architecture's blog post: The ultimate aim was to produce a geometry that could be self-supporting and demonstrate the capabilities of this innovative technology: being made of artificial sand-stone material and without any internal steel reinforcement the pavilion’s design and execution had to be intrinsically resilient to several static stresses.
The printing process takes place in a continuous work session: during the printing of each section a ‘structural ink’ is deposited by the printer’s nozzles on the sand. The solidification process takes 24 hours to complete. The new material (inorganic binder + sand or mineral dust) has been subjected to traction, compression and bending tests. The results have been extraordinary and the artificial sandstone features excellent resistance properties. Effectively this process returns any type of sand or mineral dust back to its original compact stone state. The binder transforms any kind of sand or marble dust into a stone-like material (i.e. a mineral with microcrystalline characteristics) with a resistance and traction superior to Portland cement, to a point where there is no need to use iron to reinforce the structure. This artificial stone is chemically one hundred percent environmentally friendly.
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So who knows, in a few years, you won't be living in a regular house, but one that is environmentally friendly, solid stone, printed to your specifications!