While President Obama may have called out the economic potential of 3D printing in his State of the Union, one prominent Republican is trumpeting the new technology. In an article posted on the conservative website Human Events, former Speak of the House and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich claims, “the greatest difference in our generation may not be between liberals and conservatives, but between the pioneers of the future and prisoners of the past.” Among the technologies he praises, 3D printing is nothing less than “revolutionary.”
Gingrich has long been a fan of futurist thinking and advanced technology. He campaigned for a colony on the Moon, another place where 3D printing would come in handy:
3D printing may revolutionize logistics and save an amazing amount of money in the Defense Department. It may also revolutionize our capacity to go into space by allowing manufacturing on asteroids and the Moon with minimum weight requirements. 3D printing may also return manufacturing to the United States by eliminating the advantages of low cost mass produced production runs.
Did you miss 3-D printing guru Skylar Tibbits at this year’s TED conference? Never fear, there’s an opportunity to hear Tibbits in New York City on April 12. And not just hear but participate in a hands-on workshop that Tibbits will lead as part of Facades + PERFORMANCE, a two-day conference on high-performance building enclosures sponsored by The Architect’s Newspaper.
Earlier this week at TED, Tibbits gave 3-D printing another dimension, quite literally, when he presented the possibility of “4-D printing,” or programming materials to self-reassemble into new structures over time. Tibbits unveiled a 4-D printer concept developed with MIT that he argues could have far-reaching implications for not just manufacturing but also for architecture. Will architects one day be able to design structures that build and mend themselves? Here’s the idea, as Tibbits told TED:
“If we combine the processes that natural systems offer intrinsically—genetic instructions, energy production, error correction—with those artificial or synthetic—programmability for design and scaffold, structure, mechanisms—we can potentially have extremely large-scale quasi-biological and quasi-synthetic architectural organisms.”
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Print your next house in 30 separate snap tight pieces
While events like Maker Faire have done a lot to increase the visibility of 3D printing, the London-based generative and 3D design group Softkill has spoken openly about how they still think “3D printing is a specialized, one-off luxury, rich man’s thing.” But they went on to say that “there really is an interesting future for architecture and 3D printing because you have great cost savings and material efficiency, which architects are really interested in. That’s where 3D printing is really pushing the discipline.” Softkill recently tested the limits of the latest in Selective Laser Sintering technology with Protohouse, a ⅓ scale house completely fabricated by a 3D printer.
Form follows People. According to the NY Times, there might be a significant mismatch between “the housing New Yorkers need” and “the housing that gets built.” That’s why last monday, various NY architects gathered together to pitch their proposals to city commissioners for artist, musician, and other creative-type housing.
Surrounded by Superfunds. Four of the most polluted water-ways in the country—all declared Superfund sites—are located in the Tri-State area around New York City. WNET’s Metro Focus breaks down of each waterway’s problematic histories and the difficult task of cleaning them up.
3-D Printed. Wired reports that we could be only 2 years away from building circuit boards with 3-D printers. Implications? Printed out PCs, printed printers (if a part breaks, that part can be printed out), inventory-less virtual stores, and easier work collaboration across the country or the globe.
Costco Bonito. While it might be difficult to call a big-box store beautiful, designers at Costco are certainly trying to punch up the retailer’s design in Los Angeles The LA Times has more on the proposed beautification efforts which include adding dark, woodlike metal-slats to the facade.
Solar sintering. Student work from the Royal College of Art exhibited at the London Design Festival explored the connections between energy and design. One student chose to examine the relationship between manufacturing and nature, creating a “Solar Sintering” machine that uses sunlight to power a 3D printing process. According to core77, the machine converts sand into a glass-like substance.
“Draped” trains. Inspired by the decadence and glamour of early train travel, Carlton Varney, president of Dorothy Draper & Co., designed interiors for the Greenbrier Presidential Express cars. The train is slated to have its first run from Washington D.C. next July to Greenbrier, North Carolina, for guest of the Greenbrier Resort. More at Editor at Large.
Street math. In an effort to freshen up their brand image, the DOW recently posted a “chalkboard” billboard displaying a mathematical equation on a building at the corner of Broome and Crosby streets in Manhattan. According to PSFK, the solution tells the story.
Basketful of rain. An art installation along the Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf in Buffalo, New York called Fluid Culture examines the impact of globalization on water. One piece in the exhibition, Rain Baskets, repurposed everyday items such as umbrellas, hoses, and rugs to create a rainwater harvesting system reported Buffalo Rising.
It’s a printed airplane! The printed aircraft has arrived. Researchers in the UK created the first 3D-printed electric-powered airplane. Core77 explained that 3D printing was originally developed for the US Navy (to eliminate excess parts) making repairing damage easier.
Red light, green light. For Mayor Bloomberg, safety is paramount. He even believes there should be red light cameras at every New York City intersection. At a recent conference, he cited economic reasons: the city cannot afford to have cops on every corner. Check out the Mayor’s comments at Transportation Nation.
Bharadvaja’s Twist. A hybrid architecture firm and yoda studio called Arte New York is… stretching… their space in the garment district, adding an additional 15,000 square feet according to Crain’s. The firm’s new space will include a wellness center for the community.
The labyrinth. Beginning September 12th, the Centre Pompidou-Metz in France will present Wander, Labyrinthine Variations, an exhibit exploring the development of labyrinths through a variety of mediums including architecture, art, film, maps, as well as archeological findings. More at e-flux.
Open to the Elements. A recent collaboration between architect Ryue Nishizawa and artist Rei Naito produced an elegantly curved open-air art museum. Located in Takamatsu, Japan, the Teshima Art Museum is built from concrete and gently mirrors the hilly topography it sits upon. More info at ArchDaily.
Printed Organs. Three-dimensional printing sure is popular. We recently spotlighted the use of printing technology to create chocolates and solar cells, and now, 3D printing is crossing into the realm of medicine. The Wall Street Journal highlights technology that may soon enable printing of self-derived organs—think kidneys. While medical researchers have successfully “grown” organs through 3D printing, they are only structural and not yet functional, but scientists believe a breakthrough is nigh.
Olfactory Aisles. In a strange effort to boost sales, Brooklyn supermarket chain, NetCost Market, is now infusing its store aisles with food scents, such as strawberry in the fruit section and smoky bacon in the meat section, according to PSFK. While scenting clothing stores and movie theaters has been commonplace for a little while now, NetCost’s “food perfume” is taking olfactory branding to the next level.
Transport without Oil. The upcoming issue of Colors, a magazine published by clothing retailer, United Colors of Benetton, will center on transportation in a future without oil. Opening up submissions to the public, the Benetton website Colors Lab invited web users to upload artwork, photography, designs, and stories, envisioning new possibilities for transportation.