Need a Home? Print it. Dini's fantastic machine

While 3-D printing has advanced from idea to prototype to machines often used in rapid modeling, an ability to print buildings is an entirely new category of cool. Absorb the suggestion made at the end of this paragraph.

In a small shed on an industrial park near Pisa is a machine that can print buildings. The machine itself looks like a prototype for the automotive industry. Four columns independently support a frame with a single armature on it. Driven by CAD software installed on a dust-covered computer terminal, the armature moves just millimetres above a pile of sand, expressing a magnesium-based solution from hundreds of nozzles on its lower side. It makes four passes. The layer dries and Enrico Dini recalibrates the armature frame. The system deposits the sand and then inorganic binding ink. The exercise is repeated. The millennia-long process of laying down sedimentary rock is accelerated into a day. A building emerges. This machine could be used to construct anything. Dini wants to build a cathedral with it. Or houses on the moon. 

Or think of it as permitting graphic designers to become architects, or one really interesting way to put recycled plastics to use. The web site The Pop-Up City also located this video (in Italian) of the machine in action.

If these ideas interest you, the festival will present some innovative thinking on architecture at IdeaFestival 2010, "Gandhian Engineering" and Reimagining a City Through Design.