Pixelstone: Print A Facade With 3D Pixels

Dutch startup company Pixelstone has developed a 3D printer prototype that prints facades out of small cubic bricks. The bricks, in different colors, are mixed and printed as 3D pixels – or rather Pixelstones.

How It Works:

Pixelstones are designed to be pumped through a hose to a printhead. These small cubic bricks are then oriented and placed by the printhead itelf. You can watch a movie of the process here.

Brick by brick, entire facades can be printed this way with a rich variety of colours, patterns, images, reliefs and ornaments. Even the window frames can be printed with these ‘pixels.’

In addition to bringing a new kind of craftsmanship to builders and architects, these pixels are environmentally friendly as compared to a standard brick, requiring 90% less energy per kilogram to produce. Standard bricks, for example, are fired at over 1000 degrees C. To avoid thermal stresses a brick has to be heated and cooled gently. The firing process of a standard brick takes up to 3 days. Because Pixelstones are so small, they dry and fire a lot faster. It takes only 1-2 hours to finish the process, resulting in this incredible energy saving.

Building cost reduction adds another interesting dimension to Pixelstone’s innovation. Based upon calculations including a limited machine occupancy rate, operator attendance and a short return of investment, its innovators estimate that Pixelstone cladding is at least 50% cheaper compared to bricks slips.

With a patent currently pending, the first application of this print technology will be the production of pre-fabricated insulated facades. The next step according to Pixelstone will be printing entire constructions!

This innovation was launched at Building Holland (March 22-24, 2016 at Amsterdam RAI).