3D print PERLITE tiles
Athens, Greece

Architectural Design: Charalampos Triantos
Dimensions: 200x200 mm
Location: Athens, Greece
Status:  experimental TRL-5

The aim of 3D print PERLITE tiles project constitutes the development of a new generation of composite materials and cast in place techniques that will uniquely combine certain crucial properties, enabling the expansion of 3d printing technology to high end fields like robotics, aerospace and automotives, or the massive construction field. The new type of material will be composite, consisting of ABS, PLA or nylon thermoplastic, while an eco friendly inorganic material, Expanded Perlite Powder (EPP) will be used as filler in various proportions.

Our project is addressing at the structural sector and more specific to the parametric interactive facades. We see architecture as a living organism. And that’s why the shell of a building must be “alive”. It must respirating and being adaptive to external feeds of information. And here comes parametric design where algorithms controls the external feed back and adapts the shell of the building. Besides of this nowadays there is the need to free the body shape of buildings. That’s can be done with the algorithmic design of its shell. In order to produce special shell tiles we use cast in place technics or special robotics machines. In the first place there is waste of material and producing hours due to the waste of the mould cast after production. Needless to say that there is huge cost if we want to have a big variety of casting patterns. On the other side the cost of using a robotic machine is big and not affordable. That’s why these special parametric facades are being used to only expensive constructions and not massively. Of course there is onother new growing trend in building industry and that is 3D printing. For big scale they use big cartesian custom printer or robot arms. It’s  very expensive machines with special trained users and they print mostly cement based material that are not fit for earthquake implementations. At the scale of small facades tiles the drawback of 3d printing is the limitness of durable materials and the extremely slowness procedure. For example a tile of 20cm x 20cm needs over 45 hours to finish in standard mode with cuts slicer. For 1 Square meter we need 1125 hours or 46.9 days! So if we want custom parametric design facades with 3d print technology we need to solve its extremely slowness drawback. Last but important is that adaptive and interactive architecture needs special sensors and actuators in order to responds the environmental information. That mechanical part of interactive facades is designed apart from the tiles and is very expensive with lot of components that cannot guarantee the long term function of the interactive system. Briefing, interactive architecture is an expensive “sport “. But we can’t imagine smart buildings and environments without it.