SKRIBI, world’s first 3D plaster printer for building façades
Engineers at the Association of Innovative Technologies (Stowarzyszenie Innowacyjnych Technologii – SIT) in Poland have prototyped a 3D printer for applying plaster to building façades. The first device of its kind in the world, the 3D printer SKRIBI will be able to create precise images in monochrome or multicolour, including exact copies of photographs or other digital graphics.
The effect is reminiscent of sgraffito, a technique of wall decor popularized in Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries, but with recorded uses in African art as well. Classically, the technique involved applying layers of plaster in contrasting colours to a moistened surface.
“It had been very popular in Europe until the post-war years of the twentieth century, but has been abandoned due to high labour intensity,” explains Janusz Wójcik, a representative of SIT.
Now, the SKRIBI 3D printer is bringing back that lost art, but with a decidedly contemporary twist. First a façade design is created on the computer, divided into smaller pieces, and then 3D printed. By hanging the 3D printer on specialized, moveable rails, the prototype is able to print masses of plaster with a thickness between 1 and 10 mm. Finally, the plaster is applied layer by layer to the building façade.
3D Printing a multi-storey façade does take some time: anywhere from a few days to over a month. But SIT developers are proud of the printer’s autonomous nature. Apparently only two people are needed to supervise the entire print job.
For the moment, the SKRIBI prototype can only print monochrome designs, but upgrades are already in the works. Wójcik says the team is hard at work creating a 3D printer with six or seven separate nozzles, which would result in a dazzling multi-coloured plaster effect.
“We haven’t seen a similar façade printer yet,” he said. “We are excited to say that, with a high dose of probability, our project is truly innovative.”