A group of students at the University of Tokyo created a 3D-printing pen to bring architectural designs to life in plastic. Architect Kengo Kuma oversees the team that developed the technology, which they use to “draw” architectural structures in place. The student team feels their project serves as a tangible reminder of how important the human element still is within a world of digital design, even as machines continue to replace human roles.
Other approaches to 3D-printed architecture typically involve a stationary platform on which the designs are constructed, but this handheld pen changes the game. The pen 3D prints strings of thermoplastic filament, which are used to connect acrylic rods. The result is an ethereal structure unlike any 3D-printed contruct we’ve seen before, and it’s the largest one the team has built so far.
Kevin Clement, one of the design students, talked to Dezeen about what the project represents. “Technology has traditionally been used to automate and replace human labour,” he said. “The issue with this approach is that it fails to take advantage of human intuition during fabrication. We believe our approach can bridge the current dichotomy between machine and human-made production.”
The students work in the University of Tokyo’s Obuchi Laboratory, which led by former Architectural Association course director Yusuke Obuchi. That effort is part of the Global 30 Architecture and Urbanism program, which Kuma oversees.
Images via Jun Shimadaa and Jan Vranovský