Michael Hansmeyer
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The application of 3D printing technology in architecture has up to now been limited to prototyping or producing small-scale models. Material costs are high, machines have limited scales, and the majority of materials are not strong enough to fulfill construction requirements.

Sand-printing technology has recently emerged as an additive manufacturing technique that overcomes these limitations. This technology is currently used primarily to create casting forms in for industrial applications. Yet it has unique features that make it suitable to create architectural components. Specifically, it allows the fabrication of large-scale elements (currently up to 8 cubic meters in size) with high resolution and accuracy at a competitive price and in short period of time. The printed sandstone elements can be fully self-supporting and can be assembled as a solid construction.

Natural sandstone has been used as building material since prehistoric times. Cathedrals, temples and other ornamental structures were often constructed with sandstone, as it is a relatively soft material that is easy to work while still having structural resistance. 3D printed sandstone has very similar properties once it is post-processed. In order to further harden the micro-detailing of the grotto (local parts are thinner than 2mm) and to increase the structural stability, the printed sandstone is infiltrated with resin.

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Sand-printing process, 0.28mm layers