By Zak Stone
The race is on to build the first 3D-printed house. And while we recently reported on the Dutch-designed, Möbius-strip shaped house that's aiming to be the world's first 3D-printed building, it looks like it's not just a one team race.
An architecture firm in London has its own plans for the world's first 3D-printed house, and they argue that the Dutch design shouldn't be awarded the title, even if it gets there first.
"We actually don't even consider [the Möbius-strip design][/the] a 3D printed building because [architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars] is 3D printing formwork and then pouring concrete into the form," Giles Restin of London's Softkill Design told Dezeen: "So it's not that the actual building is 3D printed."
So is it possible that Softkill's design ProtoHouse is more legit?
Here's how they describe it on their website: "The Softkill house moves away from heavy, compression based 3D-printing of on-site buildings, instead proposing lightweight, high resolution, optimized structures which, at life scale, are manageable truck-sized pieces that can be printed off site and later assembled on site." Softkill says that it'd take them three weeks to print the "seven big chunks of laser-sintered plastic" that make up the house off-site and one day to piece them all together on-site, without the need for nuts, bolts, or adhesive.
The design features long, fibrous threads of plastic, unlike other 3D printing projects which use sand or concrete. "This generates buildings with a previously unseen level of detail, and opens up the possibility of printing all architectural elements, such as structure, furniture, stairs and facade, in one instance," according to Softkill.
The debate about whose house is actually 3D-printed is, of course, mostly one of semantics, reflecting the limitations of the term "3D-printed," which implies merely pressing "print" to churn out a perfectly assembled house. "Some assembly required" would be stamped on both boxes if the kits for the houses were one day packaged and sold to the public--the kind of disruption to home manufacturing people envision in some not so far off future with 3D printing.
Copyright 2013 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.