3D printing is a technology that has more potential than most of us give it credit for. Reason being is that it’s a fabrication process which is capable of minute intricacies and complete customization, unlike anything seen within more traditional manufacturing and construction methods. Over the course of the past couple of years, we’ve seen 3D printing on both the small and extra large scales, as well as everything in between. We’ve seen 3D printed microscopic objects, and we’ve seen entire 3D printed buildings fabricated using computer code, various materials and modern day hardware that we call 3D printers.
Within the construction industry, very few have been focusing on the potential that lies within 3D printing. While architects and builders around the world are finally realizing that 3D printing may one day in the future provide for faster construction methods, a reduced workforce, and ultimately cost savings, very few have been courageous enough to actually endeavor into this land of the unknown.
For one man, named Platt Boyd, he has been one of the few who has recognized the fact that 3D printing’s future within architecture and construction is too beneficial to pass up on. In this world, there are those who lead, and those who follow. It’s usually the leaders who make a name for themselves, ultimately becoming CEO’s of multinational corporations, or world famous inventors, and going down in history as innovators who have changed the world. These are the Thomas Edisons, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musks of the world. If Boyd has his way, his name may eventually be joining these men in history, and that history may just have its start today.
“Branch Technology, a Chattanooga, Tennessee-based startup, is announcing today that it is the first company to successfully construct building walls at scale using the world’s largest freeform 3D printer,” Kristyna Bronner of DCI (marketing) tells 3DPrint.com. “The company is also announcing that it will sponsor the world’s first design contest to 3D print a home, which will start in September and culminate with a $10,000 prize and the construction of a 3D printed home in Chattanooga.”
Branch Technology will officially make its announcement at today’s Demo Day for GIGTANK, a startup event taking place in Chattanooga. That announcement will also include the fact that Branch has become the first company to successfully construct full sized building walls with their large robotic arm driven 3D printer. These aren’t just your typical walls though. These walls are a modern day version of yesterday’s stale and stagnant architecture, which has not progressed very much at all over the last several decades. The latest developments are only made possible thanks in large part to 3D printing technology.
Over the course of the last several months, Branch has been able to create some intricate 3D printed demo pieces of their walls. These walls are based on natural forms, combining light-weight architecture with super strong engineering.
“It bridges art and function and I’m excited to see how it will change the way we think about the spaces where we live and work,” explains Shawn Thorne of Branch Technology. “We can’t wait to show you what the final products can look like.”
The process of printing these building walls is called Cellular Fabrication™ (C-Fab™), and features Branch’s patented freeform 3D printing technology which utilizes a large KUKA robotic arm to print objects in open space, rather than in restricted areas as seen with more traditional gantry style 3D printers. It’s much faster, and provides for the ability of virtually unlimited build volumes, while using a special algorithm to print very complex geometries without any requirement for support material.
“Branch Technology is taking construction into a new era,” the company explains. “Nature has unlimited creativity. In a similar manner, Cellular Fabrication™ allows virtually unlimited design freedom using economical construction materials. The result is that all construction projects – every home, every office – can enjoy cost effective design freedom.”
Currently Branch is focused mainly on designing and 3D printing unique interior spaces as well as exhibition structuress and art installations, but in the near future they plan to use C-Fab in order to 3D print large load-bearing and exterior walls, as well as entire buildings.
Also today, the company is announcing their $10,000 3D printed house design challenge, where they will be asking designers and architects to come up with a design for a 3D printed house. The winning design will be 3D printed in Chattanooga and the winner will receive a cash prize of $10,000.
It will certainly be interesting to follow this story as design ideas come in, and more fabrication takes place. What do you think about Branch Technology’s unique 3D printing process? Discuss in the Branch Technology forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video and some additional photos below.