Sunday, September 25, 2011

The textile block - Lloyd Wright vs 3d printing

Here is what concrete could be - or is - if you include the ever expanding group cement based composites to your conception of 'concrete'. And better get used the look because 3d printing has never been cheaper and more available with this new fusible mix. SeatSlug is the first 3d Printed Bench at a Low Cost / Rael San Fratello Architects.

[Image of the G.M Millard House aka La Miniatura, the first of a series of houses where Wright explores the textile block. Via Coletta Design Blog.]

It is also quite the take on the 'textile block', the concrete unit developed by Frank Lloyd Wright for La Miniatura and a series of houses where he explored this notion of a 'machine produced concrete block', perfect like an industrially produced fabric. This particular notion of 'textile concrete' also has quite new perspectives for architecture in the light of the 3d printed project. The 'textile surface' of the SeatSlug is comprised of 230 individual pieces. The textile elements printed for the bench makes me wonder into which form Lloyd Wright's La Miniatura would have been 'printed' today?

Below is via stumpleupon
The cement based polymer has a compression strength of 4700 pounds but cost up to 90% less than conventional fusible powders. Rapid 3d printing technologies have been traditionally used to create relatively expensive prototypes for industrial design or more recently small scale objects with low cost devices.

The promise of 3d printing for usable mass consumed objects seem to have been just around the corner for nearly a decade now. A new formulation cement-based polymer developed by Rael San Fratello Architects in partnership with the University of Washington and University of California Berkeley replaces more expensive powder mediums for large scale objects. The prototype SeatSlug bench is a demonstration project of the potential of the material and 3d printing process to make sophisticated large pieces using low cost, non repetitive objects. The bench is comprised of 230 individual pieces, each developed as a unique shape.

The SeatSlug is based on the shape of the recently discovered flabellina goddardi sea slug and surface inspired by karakusamon patterns, traditional Japanese designs. The unique shape is both functional and collectable with its provocative massing and highly polished finish, possibly with an eye to be built individually for higher end furniture stores or galleries. The manufacture of large scale merchandise as low cost printed objects with hand assembly near the end user addresses the issues of scale and cost of high quality products, which are often not available to market due to restraints in supply and demand.

Via stumpleupon


  1. Blade Runner! Seen the movie? It features Wright's blocks...

  2. Check out the scene in Blade Runner.

  3. Wow, yes - I really want to see all of that movie again :)

  4. We are in an adjacent field - Textile Concrete - which also offers points of departure from the bulk pours or "dry state pressing" of concrete.
    Slugs might be slow moving but will get there in the end, an interesting new concept.

  5. Don - please help me out a bit on what you do? I am only aware of Textile Concrete as a research field of textile reinforcement to concrete... I wrote about it here:

  6. How are the pieces assembled? Interlocking? Are they bonded with a co-polymer?


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.