I think what’s exciting about the future of 3D printing is that we don’t know where this is going. It’s giving creative license to designers to say, “Come up with whatever you may.” And when they see this their eyes go crazy and they’re like, “Oh my gosh! Anything is possible.” Just conceived a world where everything is done three-dimensionally so you hand over a digital model to the contractor and you don’t have endless amounts of paperwork that follows behind you anymore. We’re inventing a new way to build Branch Technology is a company that is freeform 3D printing and what we’ve done is combined 3D printing with conventional construction materials to enable a new way to construct buildings or other large-scale elements. The idea for this came up with how can you use 3D printing as a scaffold for normal construction materials and how could you add those into a 3D printed matrix. So that’s where the initial idea started. One of the things with just the matrix that we produce is carbon fiber-reinforced ABS plastic and it solidifies right when you draw and we use a big robot as our movement mechanism. We’ve tested some small pieces one in particular weighed four ounces but it supported 1,300 pounds on four ounces. When you begin to mix that with these other materials it becomes a composite effect such that a piece that was about the size of concrete block weighing 28 ounces only containing just spray foam and the matrix that supported 6,000 pounds. So that doesn’t even include the concrete. It’s three times as strong as wood stud construction. When you can engineer geometry you can make it have engineered results to resist wind, water, a hurricane blast… and when you can also engineer the materials that are a part of that then you make something that’s specific for a certain use. When you begin to apply 3D printing into that, it allows so many different possibilities and that computer aided design begins to translate directly into how we construct a building. We had gone out and started direct marketing to architecture firms. They said, “Oh my goodness! We can create something amazing.” We received that commission to produce this open-air children’s pavilion in Cheekwood Botanical Gardens in Nashville. So the interaction between Branch Technology and us was all through the computer, so we could tweak the angles. We could tweak the different construction constraints of the exterior envelope. The organic structures that we can create and then have printed are so different from what you would build drawing lines on a piece of paper. We as architects think in three dimensions, but people who we work with don’t always necessarily think that way and so it allows us to take these ideas in our head and make it something real. People can look at it, move it around, and see what it is that we were trying to draw in two dimensions before. The way we got to using robots is looking at how you can freeform 3D print and with traditional CNC there’s limitations of the build volume and orientations. Inherent to a six-axis or seven-axis robot is the ability to do amazing flexibility on the orientations– things that no other mechanism can really produce that type of geometric flexibility. The reason why KUKA popped up initially was the they were really leading the pack on research and development into new robotic means and methods. They were the only one in the world that I know of that makes a mobile robotic platform that has sub millimeter accuracy. We initially needed about an eighth of an inch and so robotic precision of point zero six millimeters of positional accuracy was way beyond what we initially needed. We don’t necessarily know what people are going to come to us with and so we wanted to have the capacity to do pretty much anything. What you see behind me is the largest freeform 3D printer in the world, giving it a print envelope of 25 feet wide by 58 feet long and we’ve never run into a constraint on space so we can produce most anything that anybody comes up with. When you can think systemically about how we create a building and can integrate geometries and materials in different configurations it opens up all kinds of possibilities for very creative thinking. Whatever you want to do!