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The Lewis and Clark of the Digital Building Frontier

The New York Times – These married architects are democratizing the 3-D printing process, using materials destined for the trash heap — like curry powder and coffee grounds — in place of drywall and foam. “On a bone-chilling day here with the winter rains pelting down, the architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello retreated to their cozy 3-D printed cabin in the backyard. A wall of moist succulents on the facade was springing to luxuriant life, embedded in rosette-patterned tiles 3-D printed from chardonnay grape skins, sawdust and cement. Raindrops pitter-pattered across 3-D-fabricated ceramic shingles. Inside, a translucent bioplastic wall with cloudlike swirls — yes, also 3-D printed — changed colors on demand as Mr. Rael, with a clicker, shifted the hues from pink to green to purple, bathing the interior in otherworldly light.

It was just another weekend for the couple, 3-D printing pioneers who have developed novel techniques for sustainable building, often using low-cost waste materials like mud, dirt, nutshells, coffee grounds, and other discards that are “essentially free,” Ms. San Fratello said. Along the way, they have made 3-D printing cheaper and more accessible, often relying on lightweight printers to fabricate architectural components that can be assembled into large structures. These include the “Cabin of Curiosities” prototype in their backyard…”

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