Challenging and Revolutionizing Architecture Through 3D Printing

How 3D printing is disrupting the architecture and design industry

Professor Achim Menges, head of the renowned Institute for Computational Design at Stuttgart University, knows that innovation is an invitation to leave behind old thought patterns. “First you use the new technology to build objects in the traditional way, as demonstrated by the example from China, where they are building conventional houses with 3D printers,” he says. “Designs and constructions that are genuinely specific to the new process are not created until the second step.”

This means, for example, that “3D printing will make geometric complexity in building construction possible without much additional effort or expense. This knowledge in turn informs the design process,” Menges says. Just as developments in software changed the aesthetic of architecture, so could 3D printing.

Because the technology creates components with multiple layers, “we will have the possibility of creating very complex building components with gradient characteristics,” Menges says. “Components could be soft on one end and hard on the other due to different printing materials being used in the course of the printing with a multi-material printer.”

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