At this point, it has become cliche to say that 3-D printing is the fabrication technology du jour. But the innovations keep coming: molten glass as a medium, sky-high kicks, and sweet-sounding musical instruments, to name a few. One thing, however, has remained elusive: 3-D printing at an architectural scale.
The architectural mega-firm SOM and Department of Energy-managed Oak Ridge National Laboratory teamed up on AMIE, a high-tech building that’s as cutting edge with its construction techniques as it is with its energy systems.
The project was borne from an astute observation: Buildings, transportation, and manufacturing consume the most energy. Would it be possible to, in one fell swoop, rethink these systems so they become more efficient?
The first consideration revolved around the building’s bones. Aside from the steel used to reinforce weak points, the building’s frame consists entirely of a 3-D-printed panel system that integrates structure, insulation, and cladding, along with air and moisture barriers. Because every component can be produced to its exact specifications, It has the potential to eliminate construction waste—no need for trimming things like lumber down to size. Moreover, the technology allows complex shapes to be produced, which helps make the architecture more sturdy while using less material.Read more