University of Tokyo Is Developing 3D Printing Pens For Architectural Use

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Japanese architect Kengo Kuma is supervising a group of students of University of Tokyo, they are currently working on the development of a 3D – printing pen, and this pen can be used to be create complex architectural structures composed of plastic sticks.

Team at University of Tokyo develop 3D Printing Pens (5)
Strings of thermoplastic filaments are printed manually by the user using the 3D pen guided by a digital tracking system, the team described these constructions as ‘large-scale hand-drawn structures’. Forms with good structural stability are created by the bonding of strings with the acrylic rods. This provides structural stability in tension and also in compression it provides some strength. This results in structures that are more durable than most of the 3D-printed forms, and this also allows the users to modify the models according to their own preferences.

Team at University of Tokyo develop 3D Printing Pens (4)
A member of the design team, Kevin Clement believes there is still a role to be played by human instinct in digital construction technologies and this technology can help prove that. He says that technology has conventionally been employed for automation and as an alternative to human labor, however this approach makes use of human intuition while fabrication. “We believe our approach can bridge the current dichotomy between machine and human-made production,”

Clement’s team is one of the teams at University of Tokyo’s Obuchi Laboratory, is led by Yusuke Obuchi, the former Architectural Association course director as part of the Global 30 Architecture and Urbanism programme. Kengo Kuma, a Japanese architect is overseeing the wider program. He also runs his own research laboratory. Toshi Kiuchi is the tutor for this project. A small pavilion on show at the Ozone Gallery in Shinjuku, northwest Tokyo, is by far the largest structure built by the team.

Team at University of Tokyo develop 3D Printing Pens (2)
Precise positioning of the sticks is calculated using a 3-D tracking system in real time, this helps guide the user holding the 3D-printing pen to build.
Hot, vicious and sticky strings are emitted from the pen when the user squeezes the trigger. These hot strings become more like a slightly bendy clear plastic as they cool down with time.

Team at University of Tokyo develop 3D Printing Pens (6)
This pen allows the user to construct bigger and more complex models as compared to 3D printers, which can only print objects of equivalent size. “What makes this system interesting for us is that the shape can be modified to match different site conditions, and it is simple to add or subtract members to the construct, allowing it to grow and adapt to user preferences,” said Clement. “The ease of drawing together the members means that anyone can participate in the process of making complex forms at full scale.” “Large-scale printers make architectural-scale 3D-printing possible but at large expense, requiring huge gantries and controlled conditions,” Clement added. “This means that there’s not much ability for this method to be adaptable to on-site construction processes.” “For these reasons, the complex formalism embraced by much of the discipline has yet to become applicable to the industry beyond one-off cultural buildings and installations.”

Team at University of Tokyo develop 3D Printing Pens (1)
These structures last about nine months and are temporary. But extra strings can help strengthening the model. This helps to reinforce the weaker areas. And this increases the usability of the structures. As the user can modify structure to suit updated requirements.





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