CAD Tech News (#93)

5 Sep, 2018 By: Cadalyst Staff

▶ 3D Printing Begins Proving Its Potential for Construction

New fabrication capabilities are showing concrete results, and expanding design possibilities for construction.

By Randall S. Newton

Every new technology goes through a phase where its reputation is established by hype instead of results. The process even has a name (the Hype Cycle), a Wikipedia page, and a consulting service (Gartner) using it to analyze trends. Three-dimensional printing has not made the annual "Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies" report for several years, because it has established itself as a useful technology in many disciplines and industries. But if Gartner analysts were to take a closer look at 3D printing for construction, they might rewrite the list and place that particular application of the technology in the Trough of Disappointment.

Hype heightens expectations; disappointment comes when those expectations go unmet. Today, no large-scale building projects are using giant 3D printers to lay down floor after floor, unattended and without error. No general contractor is using 3D printing on a routine basis to place a house frame on a lot in a day. But behind most technologies that fall from the Peak of Inflated Expectations into the Trough, there is an original notion that carries enough residual energy to eventually lift the idea out of the Disappointment phase, up the Slope of Enlightenment, and then to Gartner's final phase, the Plateau of Productivity.

If the Amsterdam-based company Aectual had a vote, 3D printing for construction would already be climbing the slope. Aectual is using 3D printing to create sustainable, customized 3D-printed flooring, facades, staircases, and other building components. Aectual's beautiful and sturdy work has been commissioned and installed in a variety of high-profile projects around the globe in the past two years.

"We believe in 3D-printed houses," says Aectual cofounder Hedwig Heinsman. She speaks with the passion of her experience: During her time as an architect at DUS Architects, she became consumed with the idea of reinventing the construction industry. "Our industry can have a huge impact on the environment," says Heinsman. "Soon there will be seven billion people on the planet. Half of all materials taken from the planet today go to construction. Half of the CO2 [produced by human activity] is caused by construction. If you compare construction from 2,000 years ago to today, the only change seems to be hardhats. It is still a labor-intensive, wasteful industry."

Aectual is a spin-out from DUS Architects, with a mandate to make Heinsman's passion a reality. The company's primary product today is flooring: Aectual Floors is an innovative 3D-printed, pattern-based flooring system using terrazzo infill. Each floor is custom to the project. Aectual is also using 3D-printing technology to create custom facades, molding, and even a few small printed homes. "We make it possible to create your own design for spectacular floors in, for example, a hotel lobby, or for a striking retail brand," says Hans Vermeulen, Aectual co-founder and CEO. "This gives designers complete design freedom."

Aectual uses a custom-built 3D printer for its architectural fabrication work. Image courtesy of Aectual.
Aectual uses a custom-built 3D printer for its architectural fabrication work. Image courtesy of Aectual.

Read more »

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Randall S. Newton is a Cadalyst contributing editor. He is managing director of Consilia Vektor, a boutique consulting firm specializing in engineering and distributed ledger technologies for industry.

▶ Emerging Hardware and Software Technologies Support Professional VR/AR Applications, Part 2

StarVR, HTC, and WorldViz were among the many companies using SIGGRAPH 2018 to showcase their advancements in headset and development platform technologies.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

SIGGRAPH 2018 featured a wide array of virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) technologies, including several notable developments for professional users. Click here to read the first part of this article.

The Front Lines of Headset Tech

One takes a wide view. StarVR, a company dedicated exclusively to commercial customers, announced the second generation of its VR headsets during SIGGRAPH. The StarVR One is designed with a wider field of view than many headsets in the market, in attempt to come close to the natural field of human vision, explaineCTO Emmanuel Marquez. Whereas consumer models often have a field of view measuring 110 degrees square, StarVR's are 210 degrees wide by 130 tall.

The StarVR One virtual reality head-mounted display features a field of view that's 210 degrees wide. Image courtesy of StarVR.
The StarVR One virtual reality head-mounted display features a field of view that's 210 degrees wide. Image courtesy of StarVR.

"Field of view is a very challenging problem we have been facing," Marquez noted. The company turned to custom Fresnel lenses and custom AMOLED displays, with full RGB output per pixel, to address the challenge. StarVR is "not talking about resolution" at this time, but has provided the figure of 16 million subpixels (a red, green, or blue element of a pixel) for the headset.

StarVR also focused on weight reduction, and incorporated a single-dial adjustment mechanism for the headset. "We want our headset to replace the monitor on a daily basis," Marquez said. "Comfort is very important if you want VR to become a tool for everyday [use]." Read more »

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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is Cadalyst's editor in chief.


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About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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