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.
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.
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.