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    Perth House 3D printed using site’s earth and Italian D-shape machines

    Nathan Johnson

    An Italian intern for one of the world’s most renowned 3D printing companies has given insight into what the future of 3D printing will hold within the realm of architecture and its place in Australia.

    Luisa Vittadello recently had the opportunity to intern for “D-Shape”, an Italian company that is well known for its use of large-scale 3D printers that combine in-situ resources with binding agents to 3D print large structures such as coral reefs, buildings, and military bunkers.

    Vittadello has since shared the experiences and insights learned at D-Shape (among other research conclusions) in her university master’s thesis, which includes the description of one project in Western Australia which could break ground on new ways to 3D print buildings.

    Perth House will use D-Shape’s 3D printing techniques to make modular block components that can be assembled into a home. The project will be made mostly of D-Blocks that weigh 0.5-1 ton and comprise sand mixed with salt and an environmentally friendly bicomponent inorganic binding agent. When mixed with the sand or alternative granular material, the binding agent turns the materials into rock.

    The project will use the earth from the Perth building site for the D-Blocks to save time, money and resources, and Vittadello claims that the building components could cost as little as $110 per sqm, which includes more than just the block elements.

    “Through the relationship between liquid reagent and the amount of sand, we will get that the price for 1 ton of D-Stone is 110€,” explains Vittadello.

    “To build a house of about 65sqm, including structural parts of the building and fixtures, a quantity of D-Stone amounting to 41 tons is needed for a total of 75€ per square meter, including energy to power the machine.”

    The individual blocks are designed to fit together like a jig-saw and once assembled are given a waterproof coating.

    After factoring in the transport costs and labour, the 65sqm-building is expected to cost around $37,000.

    Other technologies on the horizon as explained by Vittadello in her thesis include the use of recycled PET to 3D print windows, although she does mention that today’s technology is not sufficient and 3D printed PET has thus far been extremely brittle.

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