In product design, engineering and in medical industries rapid prototyping is a widespread technology, but it claims its place also in architectural design and presentation, since freeform solids occur and generative methodology is introduced to architecture ? just remember the Austrian pavilon of 2010 Biennale of Venice, with its futuristic prototypes. This could be also a new platform for contemporary art, as Shigeto Maede?s months-long projects (check out at his blog).  SO WHAT IS THIS RP?

Rapid prototyping is the automatic construction of physical objects using additive manufacturing technology. The machine reads in data from a CAD drawing and lays down successive layers of liquid, powder, or sheet material, which are series of cross sections -, correspond to the virtual cross section from the CAD model. The layers are joined together or fused automatically to create the physical model as indentical to the virtual one, as it is possible.


The main differences among types are found in the way layers are built to create parts, and the used materials. Here are the main technologies, ie all the abbreviation (for detailed description consult wikipedia)!

3DP ? 3D printing ? the modeling layers created by spreading a layer of powder resin then inkjet printing a binder in the cross-section of the part. Used materials: varius, mainly polimers.
EBM ? Electrom Beam Melting ? the successive layers of titanium-alloy powder laid down, then melted together utilizing a computer controlled electron beam.
LOM ? Laminating Objects Manufactoring ? the needed layers cut to shape with a knife or laser cutter of paper, plastic, metal or wood, and automatically glued together.
SLA ? Stereolithography? layers of liquid photopolimer resin are laid then cured by UV laser to make them solidify and adhese.
FDM ? Fused Deposition Modeling ? the thermoplastic is extruded from the machine?s nozzle into the constructing layers led by contrelled moveable table.
SLS , DMLS ? Selective /Direct Metal Laser Sintering. The layers are small particles (powder) of plastic, metal are fused together by a high power laser. Used materials: thermoplastics, metal (and alloy metal) powders

Our university (BUTE, Hungary) obtains a 3DP and an OBJET at the Department of Polimer Technology, a LOM at the Department of Manufacturing Sciences and Technologies. These are to be used for prototyping products for Odooproject.

These technologies originally invented for industrial reasons, although now days? trend determines new attitude: the need of smaller, cheaper prototyping machines for  companies, ateliers, for home use, maybe even alternative ones! (Since 2003 the cost of 3D printers has declined, due to the growth in the sale).

Let?s take a look at the last post of this category: Marcus Kayser?s Solar Laser Sinter Project. Sintering is based on atomic diffusion, so imagine how much power consumption does it take to operate this machine?!  On the contrary, concerned with questions of energy production and raw material shortages ? Solar Sintering  uses Saharan sand as the medium and sunlight from a Fresnel lens in place of laser! Fascinating as it is.

as the inventor writes:

?Solar-sintering aims to raise questions about the future of manufacturing and triggers dreams of the full utilisation of the production potential of the world?s most efficient energy resource ? the sun. Whilst not providing definitive answers, this experiment aims to provide a point of departure for fresh thinking.?

Another genious example Arthur Sacek?s 3d Milling Machine which is made of LEGO elements (99% purely  recycable, or simply build a dinasour from the unused bricks  Progressive Prototyping ) and uses a simple drill on floral foam, (so it?s not additive)!


((Note: lego pieces ? as everybody knows ? produced with precise, high-quality injection moulding.))

And to complete this article: an art piece with a pinch of architecture. Scrolling Olafur Eliasson?s ?Your house? we take spatial journey: every leaf of this book corresponds to a vertical (2.2 centimeters  thick) section of his actual house in Coppenhagen. The book was made leaf by leaf using laser-cutting technology, however this work forms a sort of reverse to the traditional architectural modeling by hollowing out the interior from the surrounding material.

Do you know other progressive prototyping projects? Did you invent one? Share us!


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