Tessa’s Designer Pick – 3D Printing and Emerging Objects


Tessa Blokland  


With the growing knowledge around additive technologies spreading into more and more fields of application, we see a growing importance of developing materials and creating new materials, specifically for 3D printing. One of the creative studios working for a while now with 3D printing and experimenting with materials is California based Emerging Objects, founded by Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello. Within their portfolio, you will see a wide range of 3D printed projects using unexpected materials, materials I didn’t imagine could be suitable for 3D printing at all.

The Sawdust Screen is 3D printed from pulverized walnut shells and sawdust. The texture of the screen resembles a natural grain of wood. The project shows that it is possible to upgrade agricultural waste (such as walnut shells) into a material that is suitable for 3D printing end-products.

Saltygloo is a life-size 3D printed dome from salt, locally harvested from the 109-year-old salt crystallization ponds in Redwood City. The material (salt) and a “salty glue” turned out to be perfect for 3D printing, creating a material that is strong, waterproof, lightweight, translucent and inexpensive.

Bloom is a 3D printed experimental pavilion, consisting out of 840 customized blocks. What I like about the project is how the designers used the Portland cement for 3D printing, as you can read on the website: ‘Each block was printed using a farm of 11 powder 3D printers with a special cement composite formulation comprised chiefly of iron oxide-free portland cement.’ Because of the powder, no extra support was needed and the remaining material could be reused to produced more blocks. As you can see in the video, the panels are lightweight, prefabricated and could be assembled easily.

The last example showing how materials could be used for other applications is the Star Lounge, created in collaboration with Bold Machines, showing the architectural potential of 3D printing in PLA.  28 block variations (see detail of assembled blocks on top) were used to create the dome, 3D printed using 100 3D printers.

In the bottom image, Ronald Rael (left) and Virginia San Fratello.
LEO Lane_Designer Pick_Emerging Objects

Each of Tessa’s weekly picks is a curated group of 3D printed designs, based on the week’s chosen theme. If you would like to offer a theme for Tessa, or if you have your own 3D printed weekly picks you would like to see featured, please let us know by commenting below. Subscribe to the newsletter to get the latest weekly picks every week in your mailbox.

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