Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Robotics of Beach Art

Before you throw in the towel and hang your swimsuit up for the season, take note of the latest research on the art of building sandcastles. According to this science article in The New York Times, investigators at the University of Amsterdam (see the technical "How to Construct the Perfect Sandcastle" at Scientific Reports in Nature) offer a perhaps counter-intuitive explanation of how to build better — and taller — structures on the beach: use less water. 

Simple, right? Just a matter of calculations? Let me know how your construction goes. 

If you don't get your ratios just right or fail to account for that fast-breaking wave, consider calling in a solar-powered robot from the Stone Spray Project at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain, where a team is researching additive manufacturing (3-D printing) in architecture. According to FAQs on the project Website, the goal is "to push further the boundaries of digital manufacturing and explore the possibilities of on-site fabrication machines"; the Stone Spray Robot is one output. Using soil as its primary building material to which an eco-friendly liquid binder or solidifier has been added, the robot jet-sprays the mix into architectural shapes or "formwork", such as a tree, a wall, and a stool.

Leave it to technology to show us how a robotic 3-D printer "makes architecture out of soil".

The project team has produced a book about its fascinating effort; read it here.

Stone Spray Project on FaceBook and Twitter


See my earlier post on 3-Dimensional Printing. This Forbes article examines trends in additive manufacturing and anticipated changes in the next five to 10 years.

(My thanks to TED Blog for the link to the Stone Spray Project.)