A project to build an entire home in Perth using 3D printed stone blocks made from onsite material, such as sand, is leading the way for the future of the technology in construction.
Technology developed by an Italian firm, D-Shape, allows low-cost, curved sandstone structures to be printed by combining granular material, salt and a binding agent. The individual pieces produced can then be assembled to form a larger structure.
An unnamed Perth entrepreneur is funding the construction of at least one building using the innovative D-Shape method developed by the firm.
Complex designs created using 3D software can be downloaded onto the machine, which then produces the requested shapes using the printer head.
The process returns sand, dust or gravel to a compacted state, which can be likened to sandstone or marble. Once bound by the printer, solidification of the newly created stone takes up to 24 hours.
Italian architect Luisa Vitadello interned with the organization while the project was being developed, and she described the way the technology could be used to create low-cost homes on a larger scale to ArchitectureAU.
She estimated that the overall cost for building a 65-square-metre house could be just 25,000 euros (approximately AUD$36,000), and that further advancements are very close.
“Other projects, feasibly within a couple of years, could be built as a single printed piece directly on site,” she said.
The company estimates that the process of construction using the 3D printing method is around four times faster than traditional building methods.
Vitadello described the simple steps involved in completing structures made using the stone shapes.
“These blocks are designed to be assembled with one another, and after that they need a finish to homogenize the exterior shape as well as a waterproofing treatment,” she said.
“In my thesis project, I imagined that the windows could be made with 3D printed transparent plastic, such as recycled PET.”
Vitadello completed her masters thesis on the topic, Technology foresight for the Architecture of the future, 3D printing, at Università Iuav di Venezia.