Maker Tales: 3D Printing and architecture’s brave new future | 3D Hubs Blog

Posted: 4March2014 in 3d Printer
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Maker Tales: 3D Printing and architecture’s brave new future

Most of us have some kind of concept in mind of what the ideal home or office should look like, but only a few actually get to create one from scratch. Nowadays, thanks to 3D printing, architects and designers are reinventing the wheel, testing new possibilities for structure design, modelling and construction. This Maker Tale features one of these architects.

Meet Simen Lambrecht


Simen is a third-year architecture student based in Ghent. Like many architects, he loves to test the boundaries of physics and design, constantly embarking on new challenges. “You can never become an ultimate architect,” says Simen. “Every year, every month and every day you learn something new that will affect your image of what architecture really means.”

A few months ago, Simen contacted Kim’s hub in Antwerp for assistance with a school project. His task was to design a playground for a school in Kortrijk, a Belgian city located in the Flemish province of West Flanders. The playground had to shelter students from rain and wind, so a roof was an absolute necessity. But a traditionally supported roof would simply not cut it. His challenge was to make a large structure without the need for supporting columns in the middle. After all, who would like to see columns in a playground full of running children?

Simen decided to solve this with a curved self-supporting structure made of wood and plastic. The structure would be held together by a total of 336 nodes organized in rows. Each series of nodes needed to be placed at a specific degree to obtain the optimal curvature. The lowest 2 rows (lowest to the ground that is) at an angle of 6°, the subsequent ones at 3° and the top row nodes at an angle of 10°. Each of these nodes also needed to have at least 0.5mm of thickness on the sides to make them stable enough to stay firm when placed together.


With only 2 weeks to deliver his scale model, 3D printing seemed like the best alternative to produce the nodes. “I wasn’t sure how I would be able to produce such a large amount of material in a short period of time,” says Simen. “So I started doing some research and stumbled upon 3D Hubs. I had the 300+ nodes with me at home in a week’s time.”

Collaboration was also key to deliver a working prototype. Simen: “It was my first time printing something in 3D so I was bound to encounter some issues. For instance, some materials shrink slightly when they cool down after printing, so I had to take that into account. I was glad to get help from Kim, who was able to provide the information I needed to make my model more precise and suitable for printing.”


A glimpse into the future

With this project, Simen has joined hundreds of architects across the world who are embracing 3D printing for professional use. “3D printing will soon become a basic tool for architects and designers looking to produce prototypes quickly and with increased detail,” says Simen. But uses for the technology may even go beyond modelling. Studios like California-based Smith|Allen and DUS architects in The Netherlands have already started printing entire structures, paving the way for faster adoption in the industry.

via Maker Tales: 3D Printing and architecture’s brave new future | 3D Hubs Blog.


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