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The world has been “about to be revolutionized” by 3D printing for years now, but aside from rapid prototyping, 3D selfies, and the occasional gimmicky 3D-printed house, we don’t see much of it every day. So why hasn’t this technology revolutionized modern infrastructure? One reason is that it still has to compete with concrete, one of the cheapest, most versatile, and efficiently delivered materials in the history of architecture. At the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Self-Assembly Lab at MIT and Gramazio Kohler Research showed off a process that might finally one-up concrete, using only a 3D printing extruder, rocks, string, and smart design.
Last week, the team presented Rock Print, showcasing their process for an alternative to concrete that doesn’t require jackhammers or explosives to remove. By jamming rocks together with algorithmically placed string, they create an artful 13-foot-tall column. “We are using a similar technique to powder-based printing,” Skylar Tibbits explains to The Creators Project. “There is a container, material is deposited layer by layer and a ‘binder; (in this case the string) is applied to each layer in the specific pattern of the slice.” […]