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Moon Technology Hardware

3-D Printer Creates Buildings From Dust and Glue 139

Posted by timothy
from the one-layer-at-a-time dept.
An anonymous reader writes "D-Shape, an innovative new 3-D printer, builds solid structures like sculptures, furniture, even buildings from the ground up. The device relies on sand and magnesium glue to actually build structures layer by layer from solid stone. The designer, Enrico Dini, is even talking with various organizations about making the printer compatible with moon dust, paving the way for an instant moonbase!"
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3-D Printer Creates Buildings From Dust and Glue

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  • first use (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ArsonSmith (13997) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:23PM (#31525610) Journal

    I want a Fred Flintstone house.

    • by idji (984038) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:52PM (#31526178)
      what do you mean? a thousand yards long for those endless running scenes, Or where a wife can lock her husband out but a raptor or sabre-tooth tiger can come in through any window?
      • what do you mean? a thousand yards long for those endless running scenes, Or where a wife can lock her husband out but a raptor or sabre-tooth tiger can come in through any window?

        It isn't actually long, it has torus-shaped corridors. That's why the background keeps repeating.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        It's worse than that - in the closing credits, the saber-tooth locks Fred out.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Cyberia (70947)

      Okay, how long before the High-Capacity Building Cartridges are available? And will they only come 1/10th full? Perhaps the InkJet Manufacturer's have a new customer base to fleece... One slightly filled cartridge per color = PROFIT!

  • by ChinggisK (1133009) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:26PM (#31525666)
    I, for one, say "neato!".
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tetsujin (103070)

      I, for one, say "neato!".

      Do you, really? I remain unconvinced. For all I know you could be one of those people who just says that they say "neato!"

  • by Dilligent (1616247) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:28PM (#31525702) Homepage
    ...sounds like a great choice as resources to use. As Sand is basically silicon and readily available, magnesium is also the 7th most abundant [jlab.org] in th earths crust. It seems like this thing could go a long way towards very cheap mass production of all sorts of solid things very cheaply. There is also the RepRap project [reprap.org] but they use plastics which I'm afraid are quite expensive as resource, although they kind of target a different area. I'm excited by this, I've been following these ideas for a while and it seems to be going somewhere, I guess we're getting closer to general purpose building machines.
    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Shrug, this isn't new.

      The Alterans (Ancients, the gate builders) left god knows how many stone structures around the universe and thousands in our galaxy alone that have survived 10 million years since they left.

      It makes sense that they would do something like this rather than lay massive stone blocks to build those buildings.

    • It's not really about the money right now, it's about finding something that works. Reprap and similar projects are mostly just trying to find materials that can be put down at high res, and will hold form even when "painting" curves etc. that have little support underneath. This would let people essentially build any object they can model in a 3d program. Otherwise, you're limited to fairly basic solid blocks and things you print, but then cut or work into smaller shapes.

  • ...I'll finally be able to get that 10 foot statue of my butt that I've always wanted.
  • by rainmayun (842754) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @02:32PM (#31525780)
    I know zilch about materials science, but I have to wonder how these structures would hold up as they get large. Will they be like concrete, or like sandstone? or like particle board...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ColdWetDog (752185)
      Interestingly, they don't talk about that much. If you're going to build a building out of this stuff and make comparisons to Portland cement, I, for one, would like to see at least a cursory talk on strength.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by eth1 (94901)

        I can't see how this would be useful to build buildings with. How is this an advantage over bolting together a few sections of tubular forms for the columns and tossing in some rebar and concrete? Also, you'd still have to build support for the floors just like you would with traditional concrete. Not to mention having to haul and assemble a building-sized printer at the construction site.

        Seems like it would be more useful for smaller, more complex items, rather than general construction.

        • Or even something like building structures on the moon out of moon dust, where traditional construction techniques would not work. Where would I have ever gotten such a crazy idea from?
        • by bar-agent (698856)

          I can't see how this would be useful to build buildings with. How is this an advantage over bolting together a few sections of tubular forms for the columns and tossing in some rebar and concrete? Also, you'd still have to build support for the floors just like you would with traditional concrete. Not to mention having to haul and assemble a building-sized printer at the construction site.

          One of the articles mentions that the guy actually plans to print his pavilion in parts and take the parts on-site to as

    • Maybe like a hornets’ nest.

    • by G00F (241765)

      Yea, it would have been great to have list some of it's properties, hardness, strength, weight, and actual time.

      I don't know what the compression and tension strength is to their stone, but I wouldn't want to live in one that wasn't reinforced. Reinforced concrete is whats used for building. Reinforced with steel or iron. Concrete is week with tension, thus you want materials strong in tension, and is thermal compatible. You wont see structures built with out it for a reason. Watch the next time they buil

      • Yea, it would have been great to have list some of it's properties, hardness, strength, weight, and actual time.

        I don't know what the compression and tension strength is to their stone, but I wouldn't want to live in one that wasn't reinforced. Reinforced concrete is whats used for building. Reinforced with steel or iron. Concrete is week with tension, thus you want materials strong in tension, and is thermal compatible. You wont see structures built with out it for a reason. Watch the next time they build a concrete bridge, heck even most driveways have rebar in it.

        Keep in mind that you'd be building on the moon, where the gravitational pull is 1/6 that of earth. That will relax the structural-strength thresholds considerably. However, moonquakes might still be an issue.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      There are several different formulations of magnesium-based cements, so it's hard to say what the properties of this material would be- and concrete is a complex material where small tweaks in composition can make for big alterations in attributes. I found this brochure from D_Shape [d-shape.com] (PDF) that underneath the dramatic vision-pitching gets at more of the specifics. From the description of the material, "The stone is very similar to marble," and the description of what comes out of the nozzles as "a bicompon
  • The designer, Enrico Dini, is even talking with various organizations about making the printer compatible with moon dust, paying the way for an instant moonbase!"

    He's paying for it? Is Mr. Dini some sort of James Bond villain? (I think it could of meant paving the way.)

  • Otherwise the reprap is already better.

    • by spun (1352)

      The reprap is better at printing small items in expensive plastic. The D-Shape is better at printing large items in cheap stone.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        The reprap you can actually have, this is another thing you can't have. No matter how nice, if you can't get one it is useless.

        • by spun (1352)

          Why can't you have this? It's real. It exists. If I had enough money, I could buy a reprap. If I had enough money, I could also buy the D-Shape.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            You can make a reprap yourself. This product not ever going to be cheap enough for you or me. Might as well get excited about GM buying new transfer presses.

            • by spun (1352)

              I might buy a house built with this thing, though. That would be pretty cool. I know the reprap is 'better' in that it is a home hobbyist device, and I could build it. But the D-Shape is better in that it can print a frigen' house! I'm sorry, but that is pretty awesome.

              I'm never going to be able to afford my own LHC, either, but I still like to read about it.

              • by h4rr4r (612664)

                Ok true, I just love the idea of being able to print usable things. Then everyone really could own the means of production, like we already do when it comes to software.

                • by spun (1352)

                  Except for the fact that both these systems can only print solid, unjointed, non-flexible objects with a uniform consistency. And the reprap can only make items out of a completely uneconomical material, very, very slowly.

                  • by h4rr4r (612664)

                    I am sure this machine is also no speed demon.

                    • by spun (1352)

                      Did you look at it? It's HUGE. Like, orders of magnitude larger than a reprap. Bigger print heads mean faster printing.

  • Old technology (Score:2, Informative)

    by WarlockSquire (212901)

    while this is certainly super-sized, this technology has been around for over a decade.
    z-corp comes to mind (www.zcorp.com)

    I saw them print out a rubber ball from elastic particles and flexible glue that actually bounced.
    They kept the cost down early by using HP Deskjet hardware for the printing (just glue instead of ink).

    cool stuff, but not new.

  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @03:00PM (#31526334)
    I always thought that we need robots to build a moonbase before we bother sending people up there again. Here's one robot that might help get the job done. Then again, it seems like a major piece of hardware that will be difficult to transport. But the idea of making stone from dust is a good one. Maybe we should half-inflate a giant balloon so its top is dome-shaped, cover it with layers of moon dirt which would be hardened with this magnesium fixative. Once the stone is thick enough, the dome will be self-supporting and a good radiation shield. The whole process might be done by a single remote-controlled backhoe with a spray-nozzle. This is the kind of cool shit that NASA should be doing.
  • Wanna bet that those building will start to fall apart just when you realize you got a deadly disease from sniffing glue and breathing dust all the time? ;)

  • by IMustBeNewHere (899319) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @03:23PM (#31526804) Journal

    The original story [blueprintmagazine.co.uk] is longer, with more pictures...

  • Paving the way ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BitZtream (692029) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @03:51PM (#31527392)

    making the printer compatible with moon dust, paying the way for an instant moonbase!

    Not paying, PAVING.

    God do you people even think about what you're typing or saying when you use phrases like this? Did it ever once occur to you to think about what you're saying and how much sense it makes?

  • Hey. Has anyone noticed that building there before?

    Get to the choppah! Naow!!
  • Of course, I was six at the time, and the buildings were only suitable for ants, grasshoppers and spider and snails. Admittedly I also had significant compatibility and upgrade problems which were quickly fixed with a "light spanking" patch.

  • "Contour Crafting" [wikipedia.org], which is being developed by a Dr. Koshnevis at USC. His approach is to have a robot lay a line of concrete and trowel it smooth as it's placed. I guess you could say that TFA describes a raster-type 3D printer, where Koshnevis has a vector-type 3D plotter.

    -jcr

  • Cool tech, but before I'd live in a printed building, I'd want to know how its strength compares to reinforced concrete, particularly when subjected to a seismic event.

    -jcr

    • by argent (18001)

      Yah, "1/3 the price of Portland Cement"... if there was a substance that was cheaper than concrete and nearly as strong it would already be in wide use in construction.

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