3D printing is one of the most versatile industries because its applications is limitless. Projects in construction are no exception as 3D printed bricks are developed. Tom and Tracy Hazzard delve into the applications of 3D printing in architecture and construction. They discuss and compare traditional methods and how it compares to 3D printing technology. They also talk about the possibilities and opportunities 3D printing can open in the modernization and designs of structures everywhere.
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Building Bytes 3D Printed Bricks
I love this day. Me, too. We are finding more and more fun things to highlight and show the potential of what other people are doing in terms of design. I have to say, before we push this one out today, I have been getting some really great people sending me their design inspiration in a non-pushy way, which I really appreciate. People send me a conversation to have about what inspired them. It’s not like, “Cover my idea!” It’s so nice. I want to cover them because they are inspiring me by what they are saying about what inspired them. It’s great. Thank you, guys, for sending us your design inspirations. Keep it up because we are happy to highlight you, but also because we know that if we are getting excited about it, all you guys are going to be excited by it as well.
This one is different today. It is actually a project that was done about two years ago, but it’s been in Europe. The architect is from Barcelona, but what he did was in the Netherlands. That doesn’t surprise me because the Netherlands has been a hotbed of 3D print activity. In some ways, it’s been ahead of the U.S., especially in the early days of 3D printing.
It’s Design Inspiration Friday.
We’re finding more fun things to highlight and show the potential and what other people are doing with 3D printing in terms of design.
I have been getting some great people sending me their design inspiration, but doing it in a non-pushy way, which I appreciate. Getting people who send me a conversation to have about what inspired them and it’s not like, “Cover my idea.” I want to cover that because they’re inspiring me by what they’re saying about what inspired them. It’s great. Thank you for sending us your design inspirations and keep it up because we’re happy to highlight you. Also, because we know that if we’re getting excited about it, all you guys out there are going to be excited by it as well. This one is a little different.
We found this and it’s a project that was done several years ago, but it’s been over in Europe. It’s in the Netherlands.
I thought it was Barcelona.
The architect is originally from there but it took place and what he did was the Netherlands which doesn’t surprise me because it’s 3D printing-related. The Netherlands has been a hotbed of 3D print activity and in some ways, ahead of the US.
In the early days, especially of 3D printing.
This is about an architect who created this thing called Building Bytes. It’s appropriate for Tech Tuesday.
This one is inspiring and fun though.
In any case, Brian Peters is this architect and he modified and adapted a desktop 3D printer to produce ceramic “bricks” for the actual building and architectural structures. It’s not like he’s printing rectangular bricks. He’s building structures.
Legos are bricks even though it’s not like an actual physical brick. Brick is a building block essentially.
His are creative. He adapted this 3D printer to print ceramic material in an FFF type of process.
It’s got a fairly thick nozzle.
The actual dimension was hard to determine. It looks to be about 8 or 9-millimeter diameter amount of a tube of ceramic that he’s extruding so it’s thick. To build a brick that’s your typical thickness of several inches high brick, it looks like he’s got 12 or maybe 16 layers to print and to make it that tall. They print quickly.
The cool thing is the shapes have done structurally interesting. Some of them are interlocking or all of them are.
Not all of them, but they certainly make interlocking bricks. When you think about the potential on what this opened up for the architectural field and what they’re doing, it’s quite amazing. First of all, they could make customized bricks and structures. Let’s say you wanted to build something that was a cone-shaped structure of a building. You would have constantly changing diameters of bricks as you go up the cone.
For a little history lesson, the other reason why this is interesting to me is that I come from a family of brick masons. My father, his grandfather and his father before him built brick chimneys, fireplaces, brick walls and staircases for residential and commercial stuff in New England. I’ve seen it firsthand and one of my hidden skills is that I know how to mix cement. I used to help them.
Tracy is not a construction kind of girl. Camping for Tracy is like the Holiday Inn.
I do know how to do it and I have helped my dad when we were younger. They would take these bricks and it was artistic at the same time. I was always fascinated because regular clay bricks have a different quality to them. Some of them are a little black or some of them are a little whiter. They have a different quality of color that happens because of how they get baked and then they would have to brick lay them, which is the terms that you offset them. They would do something creative where sometimes they’d brick lay them and put a half brick in occasionally or a black and half brick in. They would do something creative and cool looking. When you were trying to create a shape or you had to go around the shape of something, whereas you were building a brick wall, which happens in the landscape all the time, you had to break the bricks and get creative with how to end it. You had to think about it as you were building it and it was always fascinating to me that they would be able to make it work out.
I was impressed. I remember when we were first married and your grandfather was still with us. I’m watching him do a project and how he would break the brick just by striking it with one of his tools. It would break the way he wanted. He had probably 40,000 hours at that point in his life because he was in his 80s. He loved doing bricks and he knew exactly what to do to get it to how he wants.
He got these massive hands though that were so super soft but he was incredibly strong with these hands.
I’m not taking anything away from traditional brick mason. Certainly, that is a heck of trade and a craft that they do but it’s exciting what this 3D printing of bricks can do. So that you can plan as an architect or as a designer of any kind, you can plan a structure and then you don’t have to use those same square forms of bricks and figure out how you’re going to cut them and fit them to the shape. You’re creating every single brick in some of these projects that they’ve done that Brian Peters has designed. Every brick is different, they plan it out in the computer and design it and then they print each brick a little differently.
It’s cool that you can create this custom-sized, custom-designed and custom-patterned even. I was talking about what they do and plan it all out perfectly. I love the idea of that plus some of the shapes that they make are beautiful. It’s like shapes that you couldn’t make in a traditional brick making process.
In fact, maybe there’s more going on in the internal structure of the brick, the ones have assembled you won’t see. In other cases, it is absolutely part of the visual part that you see. In either case, the reality is you’re using a less actual ceramic material. You’re creating a geometric structure with these and these bricks can interlock.
My other thing about it though is that this would be such a fun design inspiration project in small cases. Treat it like a Lego brick, make a bunch of small ones and then make cool forms and shapes. This is something that you could easily do and then see how strong you made something. Do it again with a different shape and see how the strength characteristics are. This is a great project to test your scene.
It could be a great project used in education. When you’re breaking down an object, you’re not just thinking about 3D printing as one complete object. You’re thinking about breaking it down into modules and putting them together.
You sent an email over to my dad and asked him what he thought.
I was surprised that this brick mason old dog. He’s retired. I would say he’s set in his mind and his ways of how he thinks about things, especially things that are business-related. We should mention, he wasn’t a brick mason his whole life. He started in the family business, but then he went to college and became an engineer.
He built multibillion-dollar pipelines.
Also, oil refineries and things. He went on to be a major corporate manager and engineer. It’s a great business but he’s set in his ways about certain things. Frequently, I have arguments with him about why I want an electric car and he was an oil guy so he’ll tell me, “An electric car puts just as much carbon into the atmosphere making it as a gas car does.” I fundamentally disagree with some of these things. The point is he looked at these videos, these 3D printed bricks and was like, “There’s something there.” He respected it, was intrigued by it and probed a few more questions because he was genuinely interested in it. I was pleased to see that. One of the other things that I want to mention about this 3D printer bricks, which is an environmental benefit. That’s why I’m excited about it, as well as the design aspects is that this 3D printer is designed to be portable and put on location. You can 3D print the bricks right where they’re going to be assembled.
Do you start to bake them and then do all of that?
They didn’t cover that on what I’ve been reading. A point your father made is that when you have to fire the bricks, you’d have to bake them for them to be tremendously strong. I don’t know if that means that there are some structural limitations to these bricks because a lot of the things they’ve designed are a bit more artistic sculptural and in more landscape-like. Instead of building an entire building structure with them, so I don’t know the answer to that, but I would agree that you probably would need to bake them to have them have that additional strength.
A lot of bricks are baked. Clay bricks are baked outside so they’re laid out in a big field. The sun bakes them essentially so they take a lot of time to make a brick that way.
It’s like terracotta’s in that way.
Most bricks that we buy at Home Depot, Lowe’s and those places went through a process.
I don’t know how they’re addressing that issue. I do like the idea of the customized unique, one-of-a-kind design aspects of building things with brick structures and the local building of them as well. It makes a ton of sense. It’s exciting to me.
It’s a cool project for this Friday. I love it and I’m excited about it. I would love to see if any of you have done projects where you’ve used a building block of some kind to create something bigger because you do have big plate limitations. Have you done that? We’d love to see that. Please send us a message on social media @HazzDesign especially on Instagram if you’ve got something cool for us to see or comment into the blog post at 3DStartPoint.com. Thanks for reading.
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