A Future In The Dimensions

SUNY New Paltz has taken a national lead in the field of 3D printing according to Dan Freedman, the dean of science and engineering.

On Friday, Nov. 21, Freedman introduced Adam Kushner, President of D-Shape Enterprises L.L.C. and founder of Kushner Studios. Kushner, who is very involved in the advanced world of 3D printing, gave a talk in Resnick Engineering Hall entitled “Sand Castles: 3D leaves the desktop and prints a house.”

“Why use 3D printing?” Kushner asked. He explained how 3D printing is the way of the future for the construction and architectural industries.  Kushner said that this process will lead to safer work environments meaning less chance for accidents to happen, less need for labor, more customization for site specificity without custom pricing precision, less material wastage, the incorporation of local materials, as well as being a cheaper and faster process overall, among other factors.

“[3D printing] is changing the definition of general construction and architecture,” Kushner said.  “Any homeowner could timeshare a [3D printing] machine.”

Kushner owns property in Gardiner, New York, where his next project is to 3D print a pool for his family.  The fact that Gardiner is a mere five miles away from New Paltz makes the college even more of a scientific and experimental hub for the future of 3D printing, Freedman said.

During the talk, Kushner said that the local Shawangunk Mountains — or “the Gunks,” as they are popularly called — are home to white quartz, pebbles and sandstone, materials which make great aggregates for the process of 3D printing.

Kushner admitted that just a year and a half ago, the 3D printing industry — as it relates to full sized printing — was virtually non-existent in the United States.  He said that great strides in the 3D printing world have been made in places such as the Netherlands, where they 3D printed objects from recycled raw materials, Germany, China and Italy, where both have developed concrete extruder 3D printing systems.

Kushner looked into international companies in these countries and decided to reach out to them.  Enrico Dini, who is the CTO and founder of D-Shape Enterprises, e-mailed Kushner back and came to New York to work with him.

According to the D-Shape Enterprises website,  dshape.wordpress.com, Dini has “the greatest amount of experience and know-how when it comes to large-scale 3D Printing.”  He has worked with the European Space Agency and Fosters+, an architecture firm, to experiment with the idea of using the D-Shape 3D printer to 3D print moon bases, which Kushner also mentioned in his talk.

D-Shape Enterprises has also spoken with Deep Space Industries (DSI) like NASA, who are also intent on building on the moon.

“[3D printing] will create a healthier, smarter, more successful future for all of us,” Kushner said.

However, the field of 3D printing is still in its experimental stages.  Kushner said that there has been and continues to be “lots of experimentation,” especially in regards to the specific temperatures, density and composition of concrete, and most importantly, the type of reinforcement required within the concrete.

Kushner said 3D printing works on a very sensitive temperature basis, which could be a major problem, considering the New Paltz winters.

Despite temperature complications, he also explained the true simplicity of the process of 3D printing.  All it takes is sand, magnesium and a half gallon of salt water, which creates a sandstone condition, and just about anything else that someone might want to include.

“You can use hemp, rubber … You can throw anything into the mix and it will work,” Kushner said.

3D printing has made enormous leaps since it was first developed in 1980 — even more so in recent years.  Kushner reminded the audience that very recently, SUNY New Paltz created a 3D printed hand for six-year-old Joseph Gilbert. Another 3D printing project developed at SUNY New Paltz consisted of the construction of artificial limbs for both people, and surprisingly, sheep.  This makes 3D printing increasingly more popular amongst those in the medical field.

Kushner presented his detailed and enthusiastic talk to a full room of people.  Resnick Engineering Hall room 109 was filled to such capacity that some people even chose to stand throughout the hour-long talk.

“It was a good talk,” fourth-year physics and astronomy major Ryan Kropas said.  “[Kushner] got more into the advertising of [3D printing] and showed how it can be used on a large scale.  He talked about how cool it is rather than getting into the nitty-gritty.”

Cheyenne McInnis, third-year physics and astronomy major, agreed and included that Kushner broadcasted 3D printing to a larger audience so that anyone could understand.

“[3D printing] is a new application to architectural things,” said Ed Nisly, who has worked for the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) — a multinational technology and consulting corporation — for many years. “It’s still half-baked at this point, but I’m glad to see someone is trying to make it work.”

On the D-Shape Enterprises webpage, the company states that their mission is to “enable economic growth through infrastructure development and to provide solutions that protect people and preserve the planet while transforming the traditional commercial concrete manufacturing paradigm.”

Kushner compared the advancement of 3D printing to the creation of the elevator and how it changed the future of skylines, as well as how the printing press changed the future of communication.

“It’s an incredible way that we can go about building in this century,” Kushner said.  “It is a multi-year odyssey in the hopes of a greater good.”