Imagine you want to build a new house or office building. In the past, you would have had to hire an architect, a contractor, a construction company…The entire process would take months — if not years — and construction delays were the name of the game.
A man named Enrico Dini is not only about to revolutionize the way we build houses and office buildings — his technology could potentially cause the largest economic revolution in human history.
Inspired by Gaudi’s architecture, he became a Civil Engineer and, later, began building machines. Yet he soon found that his imagination was constrained by the physical limits of modern construction techniques. Concrete and brick buildings require a certain degree of logistics and manpower, and human engineering errors are often rampant.
Tired of these physical constraints, Enrico invented and patented a full-scale 3D printing method that uses a high-tech glue to bind sand. Enrico’s general concept is fairly similar, however: The printer is installed at the construction site, and using a 3D blueprint designed by the architect, it systematically “prints out” a building.
And get this: the 3D printer could soon also be able to print more 3D printers. His company, Shapeways, is already planning a full-scale sculpture in Pisa, Italy. So in other words, this is all actually happening.
Enrico is only one of many emerging visionaries working on Earth-sculpting technologies. Markus Kayser, who studied 3D Furniture and Product Design at London Metropolitan University, is working on another exciting and revolutionary technology. His newest invention, The Sun Cutter, is a solar powered machine that converts sand into glass-like sctructures. In a world increasingly worried about energy production and shortages of raw materials, the Sun Cutter could be installed in a barren desert to build entire structures — all by itself. This would be hugely important for developing nations or refugees left homeless from a natural disaster.
Once these technologies are refined and begin to enter the marketplace, entire economic models will have to be rewritten. What will we do with millions of suddenly-unemployed construction workers when machines effectively render them obsolete? This dilemma requires our immediate attention, as it stretches far beyond the worlds of construction and real estate. As more and more human jobs are replaced by technology, the unemployed masses and the world leaders governing them will most likely be ill-prepared for such changes. The economic fallout could be disastrous.
But there is hope. Companies like Organovo are already printing human organs, and even food-printing technologies are next on the horizon. With these new technologies, the would would have enough infrastructure and natural resources to provide billions a quality of life on-par with the United States. The transition towards a post-scarcity society has begun, wether governments and multi-national corporations like it or not.
To sum it all up, the gap between human imagination and the physical world is shrinking. As the architects become the builders, together we could build a utopia from our collective dreams. And as Enrico builds his modern day Tower of Pisa, hopefully we will all take a moment to remember that every building needs a strong foundation.