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Is the future 3D Printed?

From smartphones to big screen billboards on the streets, digital technologies have become a taken-for-granted presence. This is taken even a step further when considering the case of California’s Coachella Valley in which a new neighbourhood is being developed using exclusively 3D-printing technologies. A recent article from The Guardian states that this neighborhood will be the first of its kind and will lay the foundations for the future of housing. But what are the advantages of 3D printing and why is it considered by many as the future of production and fabrication?

3D printing is changing the landscape of the developing world due to multiple reasons. First, it is friendly to the environment: it is programmed to minimize waste as it runs on limited energy. Second, it is extremely time-efficient, homes may be printed between 24 to 48 hours. Last, it is highly cost-efficient, mainly because the reduction of waste also minimizes costs. What is worth noting is that, according to YaleGlobal Online, 20% of the world’s population lack adequate housing. This technique of low-cost, time-efficient and eco-friendly housing may be an answer to this global problem. Many projects have sprung up in the last years where, for instance, proposing 3D printed housing for refugees. Also the European Space Agency is looking into 3D Printing Refugee camp facilities based on future astronaut habitats.

Besides California’s Coachella Valley, there are many other 3D printing projects that could be highlighted. For instance, the MX3D Bridge: a fully functional steel bridge developed to cross the famous Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal in Amsterdam. Or take the case of the futuristic 3D-printed school in Madagascar which will be made of recycled materials and will run on solar power. Or for example to ‘Office of the Future’, the very first 3D-printed office building in the world, in the United Arab Emirates. Keep in mind that these examples are a mere friction of the numerous ongoing 3D-printed architectonic projects.

So, can 3D-printing be a future tool for time and cost-efficient building? Are we ready to rely on technology also when thinking about our home? Can printed houses be considered absolutely real or is it rather a copy of a house built in an old-fashioned way? If you want to learn more about digital archaeology, check out a video presentation “Digital Archeology” by Alexy Karenowska, which was part of our IMPAKT Festival 2016. Karenowska is a Technology Director of The Institute for Digital Archaeology and in her presentation she explores the development of digital imaging and 3D printing techniques, while also questioning human responses to the perception of copies and original objects.

Watch Digital Archeology


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