Jan 21, 2016 | By Alec

Nothing is more fun than a good 3D design and 3D printing competition, as it usually results in the most original, inspiring and fantastic designs. In that respect, we are happy to announce that architectural specialists Branch Technology have just launched their own 3D design competition: the Freeform Home Design Challenge. With $10,000 available in prize money, some intriguing and innovative house designs can definitely be expected. What’s more, this competition serves the additional purpose of showcasing Branch’s interesting new C-Fab construction 3D printing technique, which 3D prints efficient cellular matrices that act as scaffolding.

This competition is doubtlessly an attempt to spread awareness about Branch Technology’s new 3D printing technique, that takes a very interesting approach to construction 3D printing. While a number of other technologies essentially extrude cement at a quick pace using a robotic arm construction, Branch Technology’s Cellular Fabrication, or C-Fab, actually prints open volumes. “This patented technology […] is unique in that it is flexible in functionality, formally dynamic, fully customizable, and environmentally efficient compared to other methods of construction,” they explain. “C-Fab™ is distinctive in that it prints volumes as cellular matrices. The open-cell nature allows for efficient builds and endless dimensional form. For architectual application, the matrix acts as a formwork or scaffold to accept traditional building materials. The results deliver a product that is as robust as it is revolutionary.”

Not only is this far more efficient than thick streams of cement, it also obviously gives the designer a lot more options to work with. And to ensure it works on a scale necessary for 3D printing a house, the C-Fab extrusion arm travels along a horizontal track to create an impressive build volume of 3,000ft3. “Specially developed algorithms allow it to translate virtually any three dimensional design into physical form. C-Fab creates full-scale building components, not models. The process is capable of generating components that are 8’ wide by 8’ high by 40’ long. Each component can be attached to the next, allowing for continuous form and maximum flexibility,” the designers explain.

It has, in short, the potential to completely change what construction 3D printing is all about. Designs can be infinitely varied, in theory, and a lot of design solutions can be easily generated through this technology. Complex curves, angular, faceted and other complex forms are all easily shaped. It’s so precise, even furniture and art can be 3D printed with it. “The ability to transform a digital CAD design directly into a physical product is any designer’s dream. 3D printing shortens the distance between the design and the end-product, securing the client’s and designer’s vision,” they say of the design freedom it gives.

Perhaps more important is that it also has the potential to lower production costs by reducing waste. “It conserves material during fabrication and has lightweight shipping potentials. This technology lets us build with less and think about environmental stewardship,” they say. The ability to fill up the structures with conventional building materials means you also gain more construction options than when simply 3D printing concrete.

The technology clearly has a lot of potential, and a competition is an excellent way to spread awareness about it. If you’re an architectural designer, this could be just the challenge you’re looking for. “We are asking participants to design a single-family home that rethinks traditional aesthetics, ergonomics, construction, building systems, and structure from the bottom up. We challenge you to strip away preconceived notions of traditional design and construction and to think freely,” they say of the competition. Of course design proposals need to intelligently use and optimize the potential C-Fab brings to the table.

But there are some specifics: “The challenge is to design a single freestanding house. It should be between 600 and 800 square feet and should be limited to one level. Proposals should utilize C-Fab™ to create innovative solutions for the exterior building envelope, local site conditions, interior living functionality and building systems,” they say. “To include at minimum; a kitchen containing a sink, workspace, appliance(s), a bathroom containing a water closet, lavatory and bathtub or shower, a shared living area, and 1 bedroom.” Solutions for mechanical, electrical, plumbing and lighting challenges also need to be included.

Entries need to be submitted by March 15, 2016, and should be completely digital. "Participants must prepare (2) design boards (24”x36”) that contain the drawings, rendering and details necessary to communicate their design intent,” they say. A digital model for their online viewing platform is also required. For more information on competing, check out their full competition brief. So what’s at stake? Not only will $10,000 be awarded in prize money, the first place winner will also have their designs realized on the plot of land visible below.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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