Robot prints 3D architectural wall in ten hours

by Darren
Robot prints 3D

Two design-loving creators teamed up to 3D-print an impressive architectural wall in just ten hours.


The “m-Wall” is on everybody’s lips at the moment and it’s not difficult to understand why. This 3D-printed 6’4” (1,9m) architectural wall was recently unveiled at the 2014 Maker Faire in Bay Area and it certainly made an impression. A Los Angeles-based company, Bot Laboratory, developed this incredible two-piece structure, which now stands boldly at this year’s Faire.

“The future of the built environment is 3D-printed,” says Bot Laboratory founder, Zachary Schoch.

The Euclid Robot 3D printer, developed by Schoch, created the architectural wall using both black and clear ABS plastic. The robot prints up to 44” x 44” x 48” (1,12 x 1,12 x 1,2m) set with a real-time control. It also has the ability to scale up with ease, be broken down and comfortably transported, and can even move a 40-pound end-effector (Ron 2.0 extruder), making it a powerful new toy to experiment with.

The “m-Wall”, which took ten hours to print, is surprisingly strong with a single-pass print thickness of over 1/4 inches (6,35 mm). The wall was printed in two pieces at five hours each. In the world of 3D print developments, this is remarkably fast, making the structure even more impressive.

“In order to print architecture, it needs to be created using less expensive methods than those of ‘traditional’ 3D printing,” said Schoch. “Time is money, and now architectural scale 3D printing is economically feasible as demonstrated by the ‘m-Wall’ due to the high speed and inexpensive plastic pellet-based Euclid Robot 3D printer. Because time has a direct corollary to cost, Bot Laboratory constantly strives to drastically reduce print times.”

The wall was designed using algorithmic modelling software called Grasshopper 3D. All the motion and extrusion data used was scripted inside the software using a custom developed script. This gives the design a new and advantageous edge in the print process. The designer no longer needs to rely on the traditional “slicing” step, but can now design the form in any way they want. It also allows control over the nature of the design and how it is created. This is how the print process was able to be set to create the wall’s curved, non-planar layers, as well as directly script the path of the machine to print a geometric effect without using a more traditional reversed geometry process first. Typical 3D printers are constrained by the axes they are tethered to. This robot opens up a whole new “angle” of design possibilities in the 3D printing world.

It’s amazing what inexpensive plastic pellets and a high-speed 3D printer can do, and we most certainly haven’t seen the last of this type of development yet. The years to come are sure to continuously showcase more and more impressively large-scale, detailed 3D-printed structures which lean towards the economically feasible. As production equipment gets bigger and more reliable, so too will the structures they turn out. 3D-printed design is certainly changing the way in which we create for both aesthetic and functional purposes. This year’s Maker Faire is jam-packed with fun, interactive exhibits and presentations. It’s simply an ingenious experience.

The “m-Wall” specs:
•    1,9m tall.
•    6,35mm thick.
•    Black and clear ABS plastic was used to create two contrasting design effects.
•    Printed in two pieces, taking five hours each (ten hours in total).
•    Printed with inexpensive plastic pellets.
•    Grasshopper 3D technology and a Euclid Robot 3D printer were used.

For more information, visit www.designboom.com/ and www.botlaboratory.com/, to which full thanks and acknowledgement are given.

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