Architecture and architects have been driving the discussion of vast potential of 3D printing for some time now alongside researchers and scientists. There seems to be a lot of innovation amongst the structural designers and new way of thinking regarding the world we live in, and more importantly, in what kind of a world we want to live in the future.
This fresh way of looking at the world expands far beyond just creating new designs for buildings or 3D printing prototypes of existing blue prints. The MIT professor of Media, Art and Sciences Ms Neri Oxman is a case in point. Her research is looking into the process how nature develops forms and how these processes can be incorporated into science and everyday applications in areas such as the medical industry.
Ms. Oxman points out how we can turn the design process into mimicking how nature is fabricating its designs, and illustrates this through practical examples how nature organizes matter to create multifunctional “products”. The multifunctional aspect of designing form is clearly one of the key enablers of future designs as it allows us to look into materials performing multiple different functions depending on where it is used within the design.
One clear example of this multifunctional thinking is Ms Oxman’s aspiration to print an entire building, using materials that can perform different tasks depending on the where they are used within the building. One single material can be designed to provide strength and support where needed and flexibility and lightweight elsewhere. Her own designs follow this principle and one of her research project named “Beast” is a chair that shapes itself around the person depending on the weight distribution, curvature and skin-pressure areas.
According to Ms Oxman the future of architecture is set to adopt processes that will create responsive materials that adapt to the climate where they reside, leading into energy efficient homes that are living and breathing with us.
It is very apparent that in the 3D printed world the limitations of our thinking are the limitations of our physical world around us.