Print It!

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Capable of creating environments from model size to full scale, multidimensional printing is reshaping architectural design.

Three-dimensional printing has gone from incremental performance advances to carving out new territories of creative potential. From novel material choices to scale-shifts in applications, additive manufacturing is transforming architecture, design, and engineering, and motivating practitioners to rethink conventional methods of production. Two achievements in particular signify milestones for the building construction industry.

From a materials perspective, plastic (ABS) and cornstarch (PLA) are the most common 3D-printed mediums; ceramics, metals, and concrete are others. Ireland-based Mcor Technologies now offers 3D-printing capabilities in a material even more familiar to architects: paper. Mcor promises the full-color, lifelike output at 5 percent of the material cost of current 3D-printing methods. Founded by brothers and engineers Conor and Fintan MacCormack, Mcor uses selective deposition lamination (SDL) technology, which produces models from A4-sized sheets of paper with adhesive between each layer. The output is like a—very—high-resolution contour model.

Mcor also proffers the capability to print full-bleed 3D models in which its machines cut excess paper and material with a tungsten-carbide blade, leaving startlingly real objects behind—and without the burn marks that are prevalent in laser-cut paper models.

Mcor has partnered with Staples to offer paper 3D printing online, beginning in the Netherlands and Belgium. It won’t be long before architecture students rush to their reviews with full-color, printed paper models.

Read more of Blaine Brownell’s article “Print It!” in Architect magazine.

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