Some consider it the beginning of the third industrial revolution, while others point out the constraints of the technique. Is 3D printing changing our architecture, and is it the way we'll design our homes in the future? Below, we look at the phenomenon of 3D printing worldwide, including a delicate resin pavilion in China, classical-design-inspired concrete beams in Italy and buildings that "think" in Germany.
The technology of 3D printing was invented by Chuck Hull, an American engineer. He initially called the new process stereolithography and patented it in 1986. The technique links molecules using laser light to form polymers into solid shapes.
Initially, industries such as automotive manufacturing used the technology for what became known as rapid prototyping. The advantage was that no molds were required and there was no waste, unlike in milling, where a shape is cut and the material around it is discarded. In 3D printing, objects are constructed layer by layer. The idea stems from printing with ink; in that process, the ink lies on top of the paper. If the process was repeated time and again, but with more solid materials and a slight shift to create movements in the layers, a 3D printing effect would occur.