Since the 19th century, the construction industry has been using Portland cement to cast concrete into a formwork containing a steel cage, cementing bricks and stones using masonry. Despite the availability of construction machinery such as cranes, pumps, concrete mixers, moulds and form works, the building industry is currently reliant on the manual intervention of professional builders who are the hands which operate the machinery. Today’s construction technology lags behind the available computer design technology.
The new 3D CAD software allows architects to conceive and design a construction easily but existing building methods prevent the full potential of the new design software from being achieved. Existing materials such as reinforced concrete and masonry are expensive and inflexible. To build a complex concave-convex surface, for example, would require the pre-fabrication of expensive formworks and cages, the mounting of complicated scaffolding and then the manual casting. Furthermore, existing techniques require skilled personnel to continually refer to plans/blue-prints which is very expensive.
Enrico Dini was born in Pisa in 1962 and graduated in Civil Engineering at Pisa University. His family have an amazing record of scientific advancement; Enrico is closely related to the mathematician who derived Dini’s theorem and his father worked for the man to invented the Vespa motorcycle and who got the world’s first Helicopter to fly.
Enrico has spent his entire career in the sector of mechanics, automation and robotics, manufacturing automatic machines and he works in cooperation with Foster+Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects, the European Space Agency , the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, (the technological branch of the famous Scuola Normale of Pisa), with many high-tech companies and with the Department of Engineering of the “Ulisse Dini” of Pisa.
Experiments begun between 2005 and 2007
D-Shape Ltd. Incorporated in UK
Patent filed in Sept. 2007
Raises 1.1 Million Euros in 2009 to create a manufacturing and printing facility in Pisa, Italy
D-Shape is on the front cover of Blueprint Magazine in May 2010
D-Shape prints its 1000th M^3
Signs 100K Euro Contract with ESA to experiment with 3D Printing a Lunar base, designed by Foster+Partners
Printer purchased by Sardinian firm, in order to complete the first 3D Printed building, Villa Boulder.
D-Shape Enterprises NYC office was established in the Spring of 2014.
How DShape Works
The D-Shape is a large-scale 3D Printer that deposits a liquid binder onto a powder bed made of a solid reactant and aggregate. Layer by layer, a 3D model can be converted into a solid object with no limitation except your own imagination. We can use local materials (crushed rock, sand, gravel) or recycled material (shredded tire or leftover plant matter) to craft a piece with unique texture and colour.The D-Shape is a sustainable technology – whatever unused material can be used again to craft unique and organic designs.
Before printing, a 3D model must be broken down into discrete layers in a computer program and determine where and how much structural ink should be sprayed. When running, a printer ‘head’ of 300 nozzles at 20 mm intervals runs the entire length of the x axis. A single print layer is made of several passes interlaced together. At this rate, 5 to 20 cm per hour can be achieved. Input costs are fairly low – solid and liquid binders are cost-competitive and aggregates are derived from fine powder wastes from local quarries.
The physical characteristics of the printed material are comparable to the stone that the raw inputs are derived from. According to recent research, the ultimate tensile strength of printed material is 25 MPa. Limestone and other engineered stones often fall within the same range of characteristics. Printed designs are often very rough because of the ‘bleeding’ of deposited liquid by capillary action. Many finished prints had to be sanded down to achieve a suitable finish.
The clearest advantage to the DShape over other methods of casting or CNC manufacturing is the sheer flexibility given to designers. For example, voids within the structure can be created very easily. No complex molds need to be made so that a complex shape can be cast – it can simply be CAD modeled and then printed. With the DShape, straight edges are simply not necessary because it is cheaper and easier – organic shapes of all sizes are possible. Bezier, cycloids, parabolas, hyperbolas, strophoids, Bolza surfaces or helicoids can be made.
D-Shape, the Copernican Revolution of conglomerate building construction
With the new DShape 3D Printer, anything is possible. Our machine can fabricate objects out of stone directly from CAD. The possibilities are endless, whether you want to print hundreds of widgets at a time or a singular beautiful organic building.
With d_shape, we will enable architects to make the buildings they design using a robotic building machine that uses CAD-CAE-CAM design technology. This will allow a level of precision and freedom of design unheard of in the past and the human limitations of master builders and bricklayers will no longer hamper architects’ visions.
We have commercialized the transformative sustainable mass-customization machine of the 21st century, which will drive the next post-industrial revolution. This will allow a new sector of direct-to-consumer business to emerge, and using our proprietary platform these forward-looking entrepreneurs will leverage their commercial capabilities to change the future.
DShape 3D Printing aims to revolutionize how concrete structures are made. The DShape 3D printer is able to craft sculptural pieces, hardscape for parks, cladding for buildings, garden ornamentation for the consumer market and sand casts for metal foundries. There is no intermediate step between preparing a CAD file and a finished concrete product. At the moment DShape operates out of New York City and Pisa, Italy.
The DShape 3D Printer utilizes a chemical-sintering process. By hand, someone deposits a layer of powder first and then an automated system selectively deposits a liquid binder, which then reacts with the powder. Complex geometries are easy to accomplish – a design can be printed from the computer to the real world relatively quickly. It is a green technology: all input materials are derived from waste products and seawater.