Over the last few years 3D printing has begun to make an impact, but the full extent to which it could change things has only just started to be explored.
Just as computerization of the architecture has had a revolutionary effect on the parts of the design process, now 3D printing promises to do the same. Until now detailed architectural models have required skilled labour, and been an expensive undertaking that only the biggest projects are able to afford to indulge in to any level of quality, but 3D printing promises to revolutionise this by allowing anyone with a 3D printer to create an architectural model.
3D technology company Inition, has partnered with Zaha Hadid Architects, to create a system that allows a 3D printed model to be generated from the Building Information Modeling data that many architects use as standard.
This can be anything from the services or floor plans of a building, to things like wind modeling adding the element of mass production to what is currently dominated by artisans. Naturally as 3D printing improves, the scope of what can be covered by the technology should increase.
The challenge however has been to combine the computer models with reality by integrating the physical with the virtual. Inition has taken the 3D printing one step further by also creating an iPad app that provides an augmented reality model of the building on the tablet that can compliment the model and bring it further to life by overlaying the likes of a computer graphic representation of the facade.
Having transferred the combination of 3D printing and augmented reality to a tablet app the potential is massive. With the addition of geo-location one should be able to stand on a site and look through their phone or tablet, or with augmented reality glasses, at an unbuilt building. Perhaps one day planning applications can even be brought to life via public databases.
In the meantime, the curious who'd like a glimpse of the future can head down to the Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, Lansing, to see the technology in action.