3D printing parts of the 130-year-old Sagrada Familia

Signal of change / 3D printing parts of the 130-year-old Sagrada Familia

By Daniel Riveong / 14 Apr 2015

The iconic Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona has been equally famous for its fantastical idiosyncratic design and its unending construction. The vast architectural project began 130 years ago, but progress towards its completion has leapt ahead thanks to the latest technology in 3D printing and CNC (computer numeric control) cutters.


Since the early 2000s, the team behind the construction has incorporated advanced technologies like 3D printing into their process. In Architect Magazine, the current chief architect, Jordi Faulí, explains that "advances in computer power, precise 3D scanning of the existing building, and 3D prototyping allowed us to work at a scale and a level of detail hitherto impossible to achieve."

The ability for 3D printing to prototype cheaply, quickly and with great details means that designers can now easily collaborate and discuss specific design details. In addition to better collaboration, new technology has saved countless hours of stone cutting with CNC cutters while structural issues are quickly identified and addressed with CAD (computer aided design).

Signal spotted by Madhumitha Ardhanari

Image credit: David Cornejo / Flickr 

So what?

Beginning in early 2010, the introduction of more affordable 3D printers have helped bring the term '3D printing' into popular media. Since then, excitement for 3D printing's potential to revolutionise manufacturing has grown. Current 3D printing projects in development range from NASA-funded 3D food printers to the printing of human organs for transplants.


While the latest technology often inspires new ideas, the Sagrada Familia church suggests another direction. Are new technologies always about pushing forward with the latest ideas? Or can they also enable past visions to come to fruition?


What past and potentially world changing ideas, previously though too difficult or improbable, can now be made possible with new technologies and processes?


Architect Magazine (2014, January 23) A Completion Date for Sagrada Família, Helped by Technology
BBC World News (2015, March 20) 3D printing helps build the Sagrada Familia



What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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