- Tennessee-based 3-D printing startup Branch Technology announced it will start construction in 2017 on the "undulating" and "futuristic" winning design — WATG Chicago's Curve Appeal — of its 3-D-printable, single-family home design competition, 3ders.org reported.
- The rules for Branch Technology's design "challenge" required that the home be 600 square feet to 800 square feet and "rethink traditional architectural aesthetics, ergonomics, construction, building systems and structure from the ground up."
- Architecture firm WATG's design will also be the first structure to test out Branch's freeform, cellular fabrication 3-D printing technology, or C-Fab, which Branch has touted as creating "stronger" and "less expensive" walls than traditional methods.
Branch's C-Fab method utilizes the Kuka KR-90, a custom robotic arm, which extrudes carbon-fiber-reinforced ABS plastic into large-scale structures up to 8,772 cubic feet. Once these structures are printed, they can then be covered with traditional building materials, like spray foam or concrete, so that they can be integrated into the rest of the structure.
Branch said it knew WATG Chicago's design was the winner some time ago but has been working on finalizing and documenting its C-Fab method, as well finding supply partners to assist with the project. Branch said WATG's design includes transparent walls and an open floor plan that connects the occupants to the outside environment and "pushes the envelope of what is possible."
It seems 3-D printing has finally grown some legs and is moving from fun, theoretical discussions and exhibitions to real-world applications. Just last month, Dubai unveiled the world's first functioning 3-D-printed office. The 2,000-square-foot building comes with 3-D-printed furniture and was fabricated in only 17 days out of reinforced concrete, glass-fiber-reinforced gypsum and fiber-reinforced plastic using a 20-foot high, 120-foot long and 40-foot wide 3-D printer with a robotic arm. Dubai has announced a 3-D-printing initiative that officials say will result in 25% of all the city's buildings being 3-D-printed by 2030.
In the U.S., Georgia Tech, the University of Minnesota and other organizations are working on the first-ever 3-D-printed excavator that will make its debut at next year's CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE in Las Vegas. The excavator will be hydraulic-powered and the first large-scale project using the 3-D-printed-steel process.