January 8, 2017

3D printed stone

D-Shape is a robotic building system that uses sand to print artificial stone structures. Developed by UK-based Monolite, the D-Shape printing technology enables full-size sandstone buildings to be made without human intervention, using a stereolithography 3D printing process that requires only sand and an inorganic binder to operate.

According to Monolite founder Enrico Dini, existing materials such as reinforced concrete and masonry are expensive and inflexible. The construction of complex surfaces requires the provision of resource-inefficient formwork and costly scaffolding. Furthermore, existing techniques require skilled personnel to refer continually to construction documentation at considerable expense.

By contrast, D-Shape takes advantage of newfound CAD/CAM capabilities, printing an entire structure from bottom to top in a single pass. The binder transforms the sand into a mineral with microcrystalline characteristics that is stronger than portland cement–based concrete. Furthermore, Monolite estimates the system to be four times faster than traditional building methods, with a cost that is 30 to 50 percent lower than manual approaches.

Contact: Monolite UK Ltd., London, UK.

For more information, see Transmaterial Next: A Catalog of Materials that Redefine Our Future

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