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Researchers At UC Berkeley Create 'Bloom' -- First Ever 3-D Printed Cement Structure That Stands 9 Feet Tall

BERKELEY (CBS SF) - Its being hailed as an three-dimensional architectural first, a feat that takes printing from the prehistoric days of paper and toner into the Jetsonian age. Its name is 'Bloom.'

Standing nine feet tall, and with a footprint of 12 feet by 12 feet, Bloom is the first and largest powder-based 3-D cement structure built to date. It was unveiled Friday at the 5th annual Berkeley Circus, a celebration of the work of the College of Environmental Design.

A team of UC Berkeley researchers led by Ronald Real unveiled Bloom Friday. It promises to shatter present-day limitations of 3-D architecture in terms of speed, cost of production, aesthetics and practical applications.

Bloom is basically a freestanding pavilion with undulating walls made of hundreds of floral bricks -- some 840 in all. Each brick is unique, with a variegated pattern allowing for light to pass through. Each brick was 3-D printed using a new type of iron oxide-free Portland cement polymer formulation developed by Rael.

Bloom being assembled.

"While there are a handful of people currently experimenting with printing 3-D architecture, only a few are looking at 3-D printing with cement-based materials, and all are extruding wet cement through a nozzle to produce rough panels," Rael said. "We are mixing polymers with cement and fibers to produce very strong, lightweight, high-resolution parts on readily available equipment; it's a very precise, yet frugal technique. This project is the genesis of a realistic, marketable process with the potential to transform the way we think about building a structure."

Rael designed and led the yearlong research project with funding and collaborative support from the Siam Research and Innovation Co. Ltd. (SRI).

Bloom It will be disassembled and shipped to Thailand, where it will be exhibited and remain on display for several months before traveling to various locations around the world.

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Building "Bloom" - 3D printed cement edifice by UC Berkeley on YouTube
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