Pylos – 3D Printing with soil
We have been witnessing a multitude of materials being used as 3D Printing fabric – resin, plastic, ceramics, steel, wood, even glass, but Sofoklis Giannakopoulos, one of the researchers from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) has created Pylos, a 3D Printer that uses one of the most basic materials you can think of – soil.
The use of soil is not something new in architecture – its biodegradable properties, alongside with the fact that it would be harder to imagine a cheaper material, makes it the perfect material for a „large scale construction approach”.
In parts of the world such as the Global South or Eastern Europe, soil is allready a material highly used in vernacular architecture, demonstrating that Giannakopoulos’ approach has proven itself feasible by this point. By adapting traditional building materials and techniques, it is aimed to discover the true potential of this material once it will spread to manufacturers or it will be used for a larger scale of prototypes. The challenges will be optimising it for seismic areas or larger constructions.
The researcher has stated that the material includes benefits such as “natural insulation, fire protection, air circulation, low first cost, 100% recyclable structures, stiffness, great strength, thermal flywheel effect, low greenhouse emissions, regulating the climate and providing a healthy Indoor environment.”
While combining 96 % soil with other elements, the material is stated to be “three times higher tensile strength” compared to industrial hard clay.
Sofoklis Giannakopoulos states that “Soil can be recycled an indefinite number of times over an extremely long period” and that “old dry loam can be reused after soaking in water, so loam never becomes a waste material that harms the environment.”
Reinterpreting the old is not something that should be taken into consideration only when discussing aesthetics, but also when materials and techniques are involved.