Gallery: 3-D Printer Creates Entire Buildings From Solid Rock


Imagine a 3-d printer so large that it can spit out entire buildings made from stone. Sounds science fiction-y, right? But that’s exactly what designer Enrico Dini created with his prototype D-Shape printer. Dini hopes to use the printer to create buildings made of stone and eventually, moon dust.

The printing process starts with a thin layer of sand. The printer then sprays the sand with magnesium-based glue from hundreds of nozzles, which binds the sand into rock. That rock is then built up layer by layer, eventually taking shape of whatever object it is destined to become, be it a curvy sculpture or an entire cathedral. Dini has even been talking with La Scuola Normale Superiore, Alta Space and Norman Foster to design a printer that would work with moon dust, essentially creating a machine that can make an almost-instant moonbase!

We’re not sure that anyone will really bring D-Shape to the moon, but it is totally amazing to think about the implications a printer like this could have on construction here on Earth. Dini claims the printer is four times faster than conventional building, costs one-third to one-half the price of Portland cement and creates very little waste, so it’s better for the environment. Color us seriously impressed.

Via Fast Company


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  1. Alt.Fractals October 16, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    This seems like an excellent technology for bringing back the ancient tradition of stone gargoyles. :)

    I can imagine successful computer game designers ordering stone copies of their game characters, and Disney executives having their houses fitted out with stone Winnie The Pooh’s. If you have the option of choosing from a catalogue of hundreds or thousands of customisable designs, garden statues could make a comeback. Pick a computer model from the webpage, and instead of having one size or a choice of large, medium or small, you could choose exactly what dimensions you want it to be, and have the site calculate the cost based on the exact amount of materials needed.

    You could use a shrinking line of statues to create a false perpective look and make your garden seem larger, or you could call up a page that lets you order custom masonry for pimping out your house. Want a couple of stone columns and some strips of stone-carving that are exactly the right size to fit your front porch or bathroom? Call up the architectural components, overtype the default dimensions with the ones you want, and click the “order” button to turn it into a Greek temple!

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  4. Nithin March 21, 2010 at 2:49 am

    The Concept isnt new.. The Rapid prototyping techniques used to make plastic parts use the same technique

  5. KaCeBe March 19, 2010 at 10:05 am

    I still like the idea of a 3D-printer that prints itself. Only one has to be manufactured and it clones itself. Remember the Indian king an the rice grains…

  6. Buckyfan March 19, 2010 at 1:47 am

    Techgeeks be praised, we might actually get humans living on the Moon and Mars within my lifetime! W00t!

  7. uptodayarch March 18, 2010 at 7:58 am


    Could you give me contact info about Dini, please! I am strongly interesring about this kind of equpment.
    Or, may be, you can send him my contacts?

    Best regards,
    Gleb Belyaev

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