Monday, November 6, 2017

3D-Printed Floors Are Surprisingly Awesome

Like many technologies, 3D printing started out as a solution looking for a viable problem.  Terrazo floors certainly fit the bill.  Present tech is limiting and labor intensive.  Yet the finished product is highly desirable.  My own experience outside standard institutional settings was in a house my parents owned that had a living room, bathroom and kitchen suite done in terrazzo using brass forms.  

It is very suitable as a household solution.  The creation of the forms using this tech eliminates the labor problem and we are left with simply laying in of the cement aggregate mix which is easy enough followed by grinding down and polishing.  Contractors would like this solution.

It is also easy to maintain and it is truly permanent as well. 

3D-Printed Floors Are Surprisingly Awesome

Here’s an application for 3D printing that will probably be more useful to most people than trinkets, homemade guns, and prototype parts: Floors. The Dutch company Aectual is using huge robots to make cool, completely customizable floors designed to be walked on by hundreds of thousands of people in airports and other public spaces. After installing its first floor at Loft’s flagship store in Tokyo, the company plans to install a new one at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in November.

[Photo: Aectual]Aectual’s system employs huge robots to print three-dimensional designs across very large surfaces using a recycled bio-plastic material. These six-degrees-of-freedom robot arms move from side to side on rails, executing a custom design that will serve as the basis for the flooring. The printed designs are just a few centimeters tall, leaving spaces that need to be filled onsite.

Once they’re finished, this 3D-printed outline gets moved to the construction site. There, the company fills the empty spaces with terrazzo–the familiar material made of recycled chips of granite or marble mixed with a binding substance. Finally, everything is polished to obtain a smooth, seamless surface. 
The company will officially launch the product at Dutch Design Week on October 21.

[Photo: Aectual]According to Aectual, you can feed any design to the robot, no matter how intricate. Seems like a perfect opportunity to replace the floor in my apartment with a giant Batman logo to match all my 3D-printed batarangs

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