Blog Week 7 by: Blake Weaver
A contest called the Freeform design challenge recently awarded a winner for what is soon to be the first free-form 3D printed residence. The contest was held by Branch Technologies who only last year unveiled a new technique for what they are calling cellular fabrication (dornob.com). The reason that this house is so revolutionary is that cellular fabrication is a wall panel system that can be prefabricated in complex geometric patterns by a large free-form robotic mechanism. The panels are then brought onto site and attached to each other to create structural and interior walls and finally filled and covered with the usual construction materials that are applied to typically constructed walls such as concrete, foam and gypsum board. The material itself is very light but is programmed to know exactly which parts of the structure will need more strength than others and maximized material efficiency.
The completion of this house that is set to start being built in 2017 will mean a great deal for the system of building as we know it. The form in which we are capable of building will have access to almost limitless shapes. Not only is the form revolutionary but the technologies efficiency can help to cut down waste in an industry that is one of the most wasteful industries in the United States.
While these structures boast about their ability to mimic the forms of nature they aren’t required to hold exquisite curved profile but can also be used in more conventional forms increasing the viability for public acceptance. Unfortunately this product is still quite expensive being in its infancy, but compared to normal complex curvilinear frameworks this technique is cheaper and time saving than traditional building methods that produce similar results. The ability of the system to grow is still limited by the capacity of production since it is a relatively new proprietary technology, but if more investors are willing to make the leap with the input that free-form printing requires Branch Technology may yet allow the “virtually unlimited design freedom” that they boast they have tapped into (Branch.Technology).