Here’s an application for 3D printing that will probably be more useful to most people than trinkets, homemade guns, and prototype parts: Floors. The Dutch company Aectual is using huge robots to make cool, completely customizable floors designed to be walked on by hundreds of thousands of people in airports and other public spaces. After installing its first floor at Loft’s flagship store in Tokyo, the company plans to install a new one at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in November.
Aectual’s system employs huge robots to print three-dimensional designs across very large surfaces using a recycled bio-plastic material. These six-degrees-of-freedom robot arms move from side to side on rails, executing a custom design that will serve as the basis for the flooring. The printed designs are just a few centimeters tall, leaving spaces that need to be filled onsite.
Once they’re finished, this 3D-printed outline gets moved to the construction site. There, the company fills the empty spaces with terrazzo–the familiar material made of recycled chips of granite or marble mixed with a binding substance. Finally, everything is polished to obtain a smooth, seamless surface. The company will officially launch the product at Dutch Design Week on October 21.
According to Aectual, you can feed any design to the robot, no matter how intricate. Seems like a perfect opportunity to replace the floor in my apartment with a giant Batman logo to match all my 3D-printed batarangs.