Dec.12, 2013

American additive manufacuturing company Emerging Objects focuses their researches on the development of innovative materials for large format 3D printing. Founded by Ronald Rael and San Fratello, Emerging Objects is interested in the creation of 3D printed architecture, building components and furnishings that can be seen as sustainable, inexpensive, stronger, smarter, recyclable, customizable to the environment.

One of their latest creation, an impressive large-scale, lightweight, additive manufactured structures, is built using salt harvested from San Francisco Bay.

Called "Saltygloo", the structure is made of a combination of salt and glue, a "salty glue", which makes an ideal 3D printing material, one that is strong, lightweight, translucent and inexpensive.

To build the Saltygloo, the designers used a Z-corp powder-based 3D printer to print out 336 translucent panels using this unique material invention. This 3D printer basically functions like a 3D inkjet that adds the "salty glue" to bond layers of salt into solid objects.

"Each panel recalls the crystalline form of salt and is randomly rotated and aggregated to create a larger structure where all tiles in the structure are unique," explained the designers.

The form of the Saltygloo is drawn from the forms found in the Inuit Igloos, but also the shapes and forms of tools and equipment found in the ancient process of boiling brine.

The panels were then connected together to form a rigid shell that is further supported with lightweight aluminum rods flexed in tension, making the structure extremely lightweight and able to be easily transported assembled in only a few hours.

"The translucent qualities of the material, a product of the fabrication process and the natural properties of salt, allow for natural light to permeate the space and highlight the assembly and structure and reveal the unique qualities of one of humankind's most essential minerals." they added.

Emerging Objects uses mainly locally sourced raw materials for their researches. Their wood material is produced from simple sawdust ground from wood pulp, and the salt is harvested from the south end of the San Francisco Bay. Co-founder Ronald Rael explained that the company constantly looks to add more renewable, organic materials to its repertoire.

Aside from developing new 3D-printable materials, the firm is now also working on fabricating a 3D-printed room. "we want to always build something that's larger than the machine," Rael explained.

Photo: Matthew Millman

The Saltygloo is on display at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco for the show New West Coast Design 2 until January 5, 2014.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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