science | November 18, 2012

Neri Oxman Talks to Wired About "The Largest 3D Printer in the World"

"Within ten years, we'll see completely different construction technologies," Neri Oxman tells Wired magazine. Oxman, an award-winning designer and Research Group Director at the MIT Media Lab recently showed some of these breakthrough construction technologies at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Oxman designs projects that harness the techniques used in biological systems and applies them to human needs. One of the projects she showcased in Paris was a robot arm that builds architectural structures inspired by the composition and function of human bones. The robot crafts and prints an expanding foam that works as both a concrete mold for walls and an insulating layer. It is capable of varying its density depending on load requirements in much the same way as human bones do (growing thicker or longer depending on what part of the body they are required to support.)

Another one of Oxman's projects is inspired by the silk spiders use to spin webs. The Spiderbot project—which Oxman calls the "largest 3D printer in the world"—straps to your back and is capable of printing out over 3,370 cubic meters of material on demand. Similar to all of Oxman's work, these projects focus on the intersection between art, science, biology, and ecology. She focuses on the concept of biomimicry and believes that replicating natural systems in our design processes will dramatically reshape the future of our structures. In her keynote talks, Oxman shares these avant garde design solutions with her audiences, inspiring us to think differently about the way we build, and to work with nature—not against it.

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relationships | November 15, 2012