A new digital fabrication start-up company that has openly declared its intention to “disrupt” the construction sector claims to have developed a new approach to 3D printing that can achieve far more sophisticated results than current systems.
Chorogenesis – whose website says it is currently moving out of ‘stealth’ mode after originating in 2010/11 – intends to showcase its BIM-enabled, integrated design and fabrication technology in a $5m project called Nautilus Genesis Resort.
The first shell-shaped structure will be part of a group of demonstrator 3D printed buildings. It is due to be located in Greece, Dubai or a third, undisclosed location, with fabrication starting in March 2015 and operation in 2016.
The company is also shortly due to announce details of a design competition for a further five projects based on its ‘6D’ technology.
According to the company’s chief innovation architect Vassilios Vassiliadis, Chorogenesis has developed a digital fabrication process that allows different materials to be extruded into the same section of wall, creating composite elements with a variety of properties.
Its website also explains that its underlying BIM platform includes structural analysis, MEP design, energy modelling and compliance with construction codes.
The shell-shaped building will be part of a group of demonstrator 3D printed buildings
Although based around an extruding “printer” head and a robotic arm attached to a gantry, Vassiliadis believes that the technology is several paces ahead of related systems pioneered by Behrokh Koshnevis in California and Enrico Dini in Italy.
He said: “The head will extrude multiple different materials, for instance with different consistencies, or energy-storing properties. All the elements such as pipes for plumbing, electrical cables and ducts can be embedded in the structure.
“For this we have developed special software which designs then makes the whole structure. It reduces the cost – you have less labour and you don’t have mistakes.”
The press release says that the demonstrator building will have embedded passive heating and cooling systems, and a low carbon footprint. It will combine standard building materials and “new materials such as geopolymers and bioplastics”.
Most of the architectural elements are due to be printed on site, while “elements that are not designed to be embedded, in the structure are digitally fabricated off site by the company and precisely placed in position”.
Asked to describe the underlying technology, Vassiliadis said that he wanted to protect the company’s intellectual property, but that it had been working with a group of industrial partners to develop its “6D” digital fabrication technology.
These include a BIM software platform developed by a Danish specialist, and a print head developed by “a company that is experienced in producing manufacturing equipment for the concrete industry”. He explained: “They are in that field, so they know the material, its behaviours and the mechanical constraints.”
A third partner is “a company that works in robotics and automation”.
Vassiliadis said that his own background was in “providing solutions in various fields, including automated greenhouses for the agriculture industry and medical equipment”.
He said that his involvement in the project came about as “I was interested in the field and had collaborated with the partners in other projects. We’d also been involved in 3D printing and manufacturing for over a decade – we also have a project to print boats.”
On Chorogenesis’s stated plans to “disrupt” the construction industry, he said: “There is only one way – cameras have changed, photocopiers have changed. The goal is to position ourselves in this new market and new landscape.” After proving the system, Vassiliadis says that the company would then seek to sell its services to established construction businesses.
He said that Chorogenesis is going through the final stages of a fund-raising round, with the location of the first demonstrator to be decided once funding details are finalised. From January, the company will be headquartered in London.