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Printed city shows 3D potential

A new experiment in 3D-printing is going on display in Amsterdam. A large scale project is underway to print Beijing’s Forbidden City in its entirety. The largest building in the Chinese original, the Hall of Supreme Harmony seen here, has been recreated in a 1 : 300 scale model.

The model is a design by Bloemen Architects. Just this building took some 40 hours to print. It’s part of an ambitious project to have the whole of the Forbidden City printed, in colour and ready for presentation, by Chinese New Year on 31st January 2014.

Dutch printing lab Leapfrog was responsible for the printing technology. Using PLA and ABS plastic-based thermosetting resins, a number of different colours are available. The clear red, yellow and even black colouring, visible in the finished model, is the result.

This is another example of co-creation: the collaboration between architects and producers. In the case of the 3D-printed city, the collaboration is necessarily very close and long-term. That’s one of the reasons we are following developments in the 3D printed design world with interest. Another great thing is that 3D printing is revolutionising the way people think about design. Rather than send blueprints or sketches to contacts, an email with a print file can be sent.

The printed scale model tells laypeople far more about the way a building (or piece of furniture, or clothing, or car). This can make communicating design ideas easier and more effective. It has the added bonus of reducing cost and saves time. Increasingly, the printed matter can be shredded and reused too.


Images and more info via Nieuwe Kerk.