Slice Lab – Delicate Density, Concrete Meets 3D Printing

Friday, June 15, 2018
4:15 PM -  5:00 PM

Concrete exploration using 3D printed molds with a goal to see how delicate / detailed finite concrete can get while still being structurally rigid.

3D printing concrete directly is starting to emerge but the designed strength of the material is in the traditional means of casting. Using 3D printing as a new way to create concrete molds, we have been focusing on pushing the concretes’ material limits through finite geometries. Concrete is a material that has been used for thousands of years, yet only recently has it started to be explored like never before. Only recently has it become possible to use CNC technology and 3D printing to realize repeatable one-of-a-kind form work. Concrete as a material has a very strong compression strength, yet it is much more brittle when used for finer geometries that create tension loads. Our explorations are geared toward the understanding of what that minimal threshold of delicate form can take on, while still retaining its inherent strength.

Our background in architecture draws our particular interest in concrete as it is one of the most commonly used materials in most construction projects. We believe this material has been overlooked in the build environment and see its unique potential as a design opportunity. Concrete takes on any shape it interacts with once it settles, even finite surface details like wood grain can be read on a released surface of a form. For this reason, its ability to mimic the form it’s given shares a strong similarity to what a 3D printer can produce from a complex digital model. Digital fabrication is becoming a much more sought-out means to construct, and this could be one of the next steps in leveraging a very underutilized and unexplored traditional material.

Ultimately the goal is to create a piece of furniture that embodies an optimal balance of delicateness in form and strength in dentistry. We have experimented with various types of mixtures and additives like nylon, carbon, and basalt fibers with aim to find out ways to fully avoid integrating any internal reinforcing such as rebar. We are looking forward to presenting all of our findings and want to share our process along the way.