3D Printing

3D Printing Material — Rock, Paper….. Salt

As the list of materials that can be used in 3D printing expands daily, Oakland-based research and design firm Emerging Objects does its part to contribute to and utilize that list in its quest to redefine the home. From home decor to facade structures, the firm’s architects, Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, have found ways to conceptualize the way things are built, turning over traditional notions of building materials.

Among the unique printing materials Emerging Objects has been working with are salt, concrete, wood, paper, nylon and acrylic. While 3D printing with salt and paper is not unheard of, printing furniture with salt is definitely new to me. Their salt-based home decor and facade pieces look like they were retrieved from the Dead Sea, with their translucent quality lending itself to home lighting solutions. In actuality, as the architects told Gizmodo, the salt comes from the San Francisco Bay. The wood prints, printed from a composite of hard and soft wood waste from lumber yards, look like darker, and maybe even more realistic, versions of objects made with the Laywoo-D3 filament. These materials can be fiber reinforced for added strength. I’m most excited about their paper printing material, made with recycled newspapers, but it’s still under development, so they have yet to display their results. Rael told Gizmodo that the firm will be forming a spin-off company for sale of these unique printing materials later this year.

Paper Process Emerging Objects

In addition to aiming for mass-customization and an appealing aesthetic, sustainability is one of the firm’s driving concerns, with their website stating:

Emerging Objects is interested in the creation of 3D printed buildings, building components and interior accessories that can be seen as sustainable, inexpensive, stronger, smarter, recyclable, customizable and perhaps even reparable to the environment. We want to 3D print long-lasting performance-based designs for the built environment using raw materials that have strength, tactility, cultural associations, relevance and beauty.

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Sounds all well and good, but these salt-based, 3D printed edifice facades are making me thirsty!