The World’s First Printed Building | Blueprint Magazine
In a small shed on an industrial park near Pisa is a machine that can print buildings. The machine itself looks like a prototype for the automotive industry. Four columns independently support a frame with a single armature on it. Driven by CAD software installed on a dust-covered computer terminal, the armature moves just millimetres above a pile of sand, expressing a magnesium-based solution from hundreds of nozzles on its lower side. It makes four passes. The layer dries and Enrico Dini recalibrates the armature frame. The system deposits the sand and then inorganic binding ink. The exercise is repeated. The millennia-long process of laying down sedimentary rock is accelerated into a day. A building emerges. This machine could be used to construct anything. Dini wants to build a cathedral with it. Or houses on the moon.
Dini’s machine marks a vital step change from the shoebox-size 3D printing of today, to tomorrow’s ability to print complete structures on site. Although others have been working hard on the prototype, Dini’s machine is ahead of the pack, with the Architectural Association beating several others to get to the first marketable version. The conceptual leap from modelling to manufacture may seem small, but making it has taken seven years of Dini’s personal endeavour in the face of bankruptcy and, when his ex-wife said she doubted his ability to complete the project, it cost him his marriage.