I find the whole idea of 3D printing rather intriguing. Not least because along with free and openly available design software and affordable technology it has the potential to redefine manufacturing. Projects like Arduino, the open-source electronics prototyping platform, and Makerbot, the first sub $1000 dollar 3D printer that can produce plastic parts from digital files, hint at the kind of distributed manufacturing model that John called 'Social Production' and that I talked about here.
But this one takes the biscuit. In Pisa, Italy, Enrico Dini has developed a machine called D-Shape which sprays a magnesium-based glue onto a thin layer of sand (at a resolution of about 25 dpi) to bind it into solid rock, which can be built up, layer over layer in a process that can include internal curves, ducting and partitions.
Its worth reading the whole story over on Blueprint. As they say, the implications are massive. Digital architecture made real. Printed buildings. Technology that makes building organic, fluid, Gaudiesque-type structures much simpler.
Dini claims that his process is four times faster than conventional building, is far more cost efficient than using cement, creates very little waste and is better for the environment.
It's a story of seven years of innovation and determination, but also near bankruptcy, investors that pulled out, and a marriage that broke down. But he's now creating real structures with his machine. Good for him. That's the kind of drive and inventiveness that creates real change.
You can read the full story here.