Here are two 3D-printed thesis projects from a course taught by Alessio Erioli at the University of Bologna; above you see work by Vincenzo Reale, below work by Riccardo La Magna. I have to admit to being utterly blown away by the formal possibilities of 3D printers, and these projects only make that obsession more extreme.
For one or two more images of these and other thesis projects, check out the Flickr stream of Alessio Erioli, where I originally saw these photos; for more on the future of (an admittedly different kind of) 3D printing, check out the recent, awesome article by Tim Abrahams in Blueprint Magazine: “In a small shed on an industrial park near Pisa is a machine that can print buildings,” we read.
The machine itself looks like a prototype for the automotive industry. Four columns independently support a frame with a single armature on it. Driven by CAD software installed on a dust-covered computer terminal, the armature moves just millimetres above a pile of sand, expressing a magnesium-based solution from hundreds of nozzles on its lower side. It makes four passes… The system deposits the sand and then inorganic binding ink. The exercise is repeated. The millennia-long process of laying down sedimentary rock is accelerated into a day. A building emerges. This machine could be used to construct anything.
Mimicking geology, we might forego architecture altogether and print new tectonic plates. Print earthquakes and mountain chains, archipelagoes at sea.