The Bloom pavilion is said to be the first and largest powder-based 3D-printed cement structure built to date (Photo: UC Berkeley)
3D printing looks set to become very important in architecture, but we’ve yet to see exactly how the future of large-scale click-and-print construction will play out. A potential step forward comes via a team of UC Berkeley researchers led by Associate Professor of Architecture Ronald Rael, who recently created a free-standing pavilion called Bloom to demonstrate the precision of their powder-based cement method of 3D-printed construction.
We’ve previously reported on several 3D-printed architecture projects, including Andrey Rudenko’s castle and Winsun’s impressive feat of printing 10 houses in less than 24 hours. However, the method pioneered at Berkeley by Rael and his team is different to those, and rather than extruding wet cement, involves printing out thin layers of a special dry cement powder, each of which is then sprayed with water to harden the structure.
“While there are a handful of people currently experimenting with printing 3D architecture, only a few are looking at 3D printing with cement-based materials, and all are extruding wet cement through a nozzle to produce rough panels,” says Rael, who is also a member of Emerging Objects, the group behind the Cool Bricks concept we recently covered.