Making a concrete McMansion with a 3D printer

A Chinese firm can put together a McMansion with a 3D printer:

WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co., a Chinese architectural materials company with more than 70 patents to its name, has now come up with a way to construct a 12,000 square-foot home – a kind of McMansion – out of 3D printed blocks.

A special technique has resulted in a concrete building that, while requiring paint to be attractive, still manages to be perfectly functional.

The printer that created these buildings is 105 feet long, 33 feet wide, and 21 feet tall, larger than most rooms, but it works on basically the same principles as one of MakerBot’s printers. It uses a nozzle to pump a mix of concrete, sand and fiberglass (which are recycled; the company’s name seems to translate to ‘Surplus’) onto a flat substrate, slowly accumulating into a tough material that can be buffed to create a smoother edge and/or overlaid with various traditional-looking decorative elements. A zigzag design inside the pieces helps reinforce them, similar to corrugated cardboard.

It takes about a day to print all the components. The prefab blocks are then trucked to the construction site, where it takes just five days to put them all together. The final height of the building is 20 feet by 4,000 feet wide, and the total cost to build it was just $161,000. This method saves between 30 and 60 percent of construction waste, cuts down on time by 50-70 percent, and cuts labor costs from 50-80 percent.

While the cost seems attractive, I can only imagine what McMansion critics would say if some of these started showing up in American neighborhoods. Want mass produced? Want concrete as your primary material? Of course, this all may get refined over time but there is some work to do before this would meet single-family home standards in the United States.

The crazy house you get when put together the McMansions of Google 3D warehouse

One group combined the various McMansion designs they found on Google 3D warehouse – and the result is not pretty:

Two-year-old Canadian design office The Practice of Everyday Design searched Google 3D Warehouse (an open-source library of model files) for the most popular suburban home typologies. After culling the top examples, they fused them all together and 3D-printed the mess. They call it “Nasty McMansion,” and you can buy one! We suggest hanging it on a string and dangling it from the ceiling in your office, as a warning.

Think of it as a kind of Ringstrasse for suburban mansions. Write TOPED:

“The McNasty Mansion offers a new and more exciting typology of homes, formed off the same principals of the McMansion: more rooms than one can fill, enough mixed styles to ensure complete architectural confusion, and enough faux finishes and cheap materials to keep cost down but dimensions huge.

I’m not sure how exactly they put this image together but it looks like it was done in such a way to maximize the bizarreness. For example, that front door on the left that tilts down toward the ground would be quite difficult for the average McMansion owner to access. Wouldn’t you get a similar result even if you combined more pleasing designs? And how exactly does their 3D design incorporate “faux finishes and cheap materials” versus the real things? But, if the goal was to create a “McNasty” design that creates a startling visual, the goal was met.

Just curious: what is the general level of architectural design on Google 3D warehouse?

Taking enforcement to the next dimension

Get ready for the next avalanche in copyright infringement lawsuits:  3D printing!

[L]ast week, Ulrich Schwanitz figured out how to print the “impossible” Penrose Triangle,” a well-known optical illusion. He released a video of the shape and challenged others to see how it might have been done. 3D modeller Artur Tchoukanov promptly figured it out, designed a 3D shape that accomplished the same thing, and uploaded his shape’s specifications to Thingiverse, a repository for 3D designs….Schwanitz sent Thingiverse a DMCA notice — essentially, a threat to name Thinigverse as a party in any copyright lawsuit against Tchoukanov unless Thingiverse took the shape down immediately.Whereupon Schwanitz became the inventor of something much more substantial than a 3D Penrose Triangle — he became the inventor of copyright threats over open 3D repositories. A weekend’s worth of acrimony followed — with lots of speculation about the copyrightability of Schwanitz’s design and questions about whether Tchoukanov was guilty of violating any copyright that vested in the design, and further questions about the ethics of copying designs and the ethics of sending copyright threats to Thingiverse.

As Cory Doctorow later notes in his BoingBoing post, Schwanitz has withdrawn his litigation threat, but legal wrangling of this new, third-dimensional sort is certainly not going to stop anytime soon:

[A]ggrieved optical illusion creators don’t have anything like the political and legislative clout of other potential 3D printing complexifiers. Imagine what happens when some magistrate in Alabama decides that Thingiverse is liable for hosting 3D models of sex toys (illegal in AL) and issues a bench warrant for Bre Pettis’s arrest. Or when someone from Shapeways shows up at CES in Vegas, only to discover that the state Drug Enforcement Agency has issued a warrant on the basis of a bong design available at Shapeways, violating the state’s strict anti-drug-paraphenalia laws. Or someone from i.materialise gets an EU extradition request from Germany because someone’s printed a detailed, historically accurate toy soldier with a swastika armband, violating Germany’s strict laws against Nazi paraphernalia.

And just wait until someone creates a printer that can reproduce patented pharmaceutical compounds or Monsanto’s patented life-forms! Now there are a couple of villains with a lot of resources to throw at making the whole Internet’s life miserable in order to squeeze an extra 0.05% into the quarter’s bottom line.

As the Economist’s cover study just two weeks ago indicates, the 3D printer world is already here.  As that report suggested,

Good ideas can be copied even more rapidly with 3D printing, so battles over intellectual property may become even more intense. It will be easier for imitators as well as innovators to get goods to market fast. Competitive advantages may thus be shorter-lived than ever before.