Amsterdam-based tech company Aectual is currently exhibiting a sustainably produced, bespoke range of floors at the Salone del Mobile in Milan. Aectual has developed technology to create 3D printed floors in a virtually limitless array of colours and patterns, which they achieve with the help of robotic 3D printers.
According to company CEO Hans Vermeulen, the technology “gives designers complete design freedom”, and allows clients to create entirely personalized designs “for spectactular floors in, for instance, a hotel lobby, or for a striking retail brand”.
Aectual uses a robot with six degrees of freedom: it is able to move forwards and back, up and down, left and right, but also between these three axes (e.g. up to right; down to back).
A sustainable approach
Beyond the flexibility of this approach, Aectual also prints with plant-based, recyclable bioplastic material that is wear-resistant. Once printing is completed, the mould is transported to the final location and filled with a terrazzo made of recycled granite and marble chips bound together with a bio-based agent. The end result is finally polished on site. Because of the environment-friendly materials used, Aectual aims to create little to no waste.
So far this technology has been used to floor a Tokyo department store, and will feature in Amsterdam’s renovated Schipol airport. But the floors themselves are part of a broader architectural vision: Vermeulen, along with Aectual co-founders Martine de Wit and Heswig Heinsman, are also the partners of DUS Architects, an architecture firm currently working to create a 3D-printed canal house in Amsterdam.
The bespoke aspect of the Aectual floors, along with its hardwearing and eco-friendly properties, shows the potential to become popular beyond design shows–but it remains too early to speak of the future affordability of the product. Nonetheless, it comes as another representative of the innovative uses of 3D printing in architecture.
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Featured image shows one of the Aectual designs. Photo via Aectual.