Emerging Objects has already 3D-printed some spectacular objects, ranging from twisting slug-like benches to jewelry, vases and toys, but now they are looking to use the technology to create architectural elements that can revolutionize the discipline. Their 11-feet-long snaking bench is strong enough to seem like it was made from stone. Instead, the structure was made from 230 thick concrete slabs and fastened together with nuts and bolts. The small concrete tiles that could now be used to 3D-print walls was actually one of the company’s first 3D-printed objects.
Since then Emerging Objects, run by Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, gradually shifted their focus to combining their 3D-printed expertise with architectural design. Their chain-like structure called Pantheon allowed them to experiment with 3D-printed hardware connections and interlocking modules that could be used to build panels, roofs, walls and entire buildings. Their latest 3D-printing endeavor resulted in a three feet tall wall constructed out of centimeter-thin salt tiles that get their strength from their multi-angular structure.
One of the most advanced 3D-printing techniques is fused deposition modeling (FDM), which lays down thin layers of extruded plastic to create objects. However, Rael claims that powder-printing is the future of 3D printing technology. The Z-corp powder-based 3D printer the company uses functions like a 3D inkjet that adds liquid binding solution to bond layers of powdered material into solid objects. The objects are made in-house, from locally sourced materials, including salt, pepper, wood, and recycled paper.
The new powder-printing technique can use materials to make object that are strong enough to withstand the weight of a human. The fiber-reinforced cement used for making the Seat Slug can withstand 4500 pounds of pressure. This is achieved by embedding fibers in the concrete which later solidifies.