A Kent State University professor has won a coveted award from Architecture Magazine for making bricks with a 3D printer. As Mark Urycki reports, his innovation could change the way buildings are designed and constructed.
You need to look no farther than the Peter B. Lewis building on the Case Western Reserve campus to see brick walls that twist and bend – a pretty difficult feat with standard bricks. But Kent State architecture professor Brian Peters makes it much easier to create unique bricks with odd shapes.
At his Robotic Fabrication Lab Peters has modified 3D industrial printers that normally squeeze out plastic like a hot glue gun to work with other substances.
“There are different types of extruders that are made for different materials. If you can figure out a way to attach that to a 3D printer you can print with it. So it can be ceramic, concrete, plastic, composite materials where you combine different materials basically.”
Peters’ bricks can have all manner of shapes and interior structures and be designed to almost snap together. He believes as 3D printers improve they’ll be able to make construction materials as needed at a construction site.
“I think it’s interesting to think about if we can have a mobile 3D printing lab that moves to the site and 3D prints a building directly on site using local materials. “
Peters is looking to collaborate with the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, a federally funded 3D printer research center in Youngstown and other area universities and companies doing research on building materials.