Posts tagged with "3D Printing":

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University of Michigan researchers arm a drone with a nailgun

There have been many uses proposed for drones: photography and videography, certainly; package delivery, and aerial 3D mapping. Now, researchers at the University of Michigan have proposed yet another possibility for these scaled-down aircraft—as flying nailguns. While the FAA may have banned people from attaching flamethrowers to their octocopters, U of M researchers say the armed DJI-S1000 is here to help humans, not hurt. By creating an autonomous roofing robot, they hope they can spare humans from doing the dangerous job of applying asphalt shingles. With location markers and video cameras sending imagery to be processed through a modified version of ArduPilot, an open-source autopilot software, the drone is able to find the edges of the shingle, nail within a one-inch gap, and apply the adequate download pressure to nail the shingle to the roof. Currently, this drone roofer can’t compete with the speed of a human worker, and it only has a 10-minute lifespan, but the researchers hope they can connect the drone to a generator on the ground, as well as a pneumatic system to put in an upgraded nailgun. They also hope to upgrade the onboard sensing for more accurate, quicker wayfinding.  The nail gun drones are just some of many proposals for using drone tech in AEC, ranging from the highly speculative, such as GXN’s proposal for flying skyscraper repair robots, to the in-use—such as many contractors' application of drone photography on job sites. Everything including using drones for painting has been proposed by researchers, but even as technology improves, drones are still only suited to replacing the most monotonous and dangerous human tasks.
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A steampunk pavilion combines analog and digital technology

In Tallinn, Estonia, a knotted wooden structure that combines both new and old technology has won the Huts and Habitats award at the Tallinn Architecture Biennale. Curated by Yael Reisner under the theme “Beauty Matters,” the biennale seeks to celebrate the beauty in opposition to architectural environs that can often be isolating, alienating, and ecologically unsound. Steampunk, as the installation is called, is designed to show off the latest in tech while retaining a human touch. It was designed by Soomeen Hahm and Igor Pantic, who both teach at the Bartlett, as well as Cameron Newnham and Gwyllim Jahn of software company Fologram, and constructed along with the engineers at Format and the Estonian lumber building specialists Thermory. Standing 13 feet tall, the thermally-modified pavilion is made of steam-bent ash wood, with hand-crafted elements sitting side-by-side with parts that have been CNC-milled and 3D printed; blurring the boundaries between the analog and digital in process and production. Steampunk was also designed in part using mixed reality tech, further complicating this “human-machine collaboration,” as biennial juror Areti Maropoulo put it. “The structure challenges the idea of the primitive hut—showing how, by using algorithmic logic, simple raw materials can be turned into a highly complex and inhabitable structure,” said Gilles Retsin, TAB 2019’s Installation Program Curator, in a release from the biennale. “[Steampunk] consists of a bespoke merging of craft, immersive technologies, and material performance, for the production of dynamic organic forms that surpass building limitations of local precision or of the pure automate,” explained Areti Markopoulo, head of the jury for the installation program, in a press release. The pavilion is the latest in a long line high-tech timber installations, as architects, researchers, and educators all try their hand at pushing the boundaries of what timber can do; take Cornell University’s Robotic Construction Laboratory's LOG KNOT, for example. Steampunk will be on view until 2021.
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A new show at Cooper Union bridges architectural research and fabrication

As architects further blur the lines between science and design, lab and studio, and academia and practice, the experiments that arise from architect’s labs are changing the way the profession operates. With new digital fabrication and design tools and the university-fueled facilities to play with them, architects are able to reach in and engage with the physical construction process of their buildings more than ever before, altering a professional cultural divide that has been occupied by stonemasons, engineers, and contractors for millennia.  “Really, this is an opportunity for architects to get back a lot of power they’ve lost over the last century,” said Fabio Gramazio, “We finally have the tools to take these risks.”  Gramazio is a cofounder of Gramazio Kohler Architects, along with partner Matthias Kohler. But in 2000, the firm expanded into Gramazio Kohler Research (GKR) with the support of ETH Zurich, where the two both teach. The duo started tinkering with industrial robots, like those found in automobile factories, in the early aughts when they adapted the programmable arms for specific, repeatable building tasks like stacking bricks. However, they’ve come a long way since 2000. How to Build a House, an exhibition on the future of digital architectural fabrication, opened at the Cooper Union last Thursday and showcases a body of research at GKR and their partners from the renowned DFAB House, Benjamin Dillenburger and Mania Aghaei Meibodi. The four architects walked me through the exhibition space, where pieces of their experiments on architectural robots, large-scale 3D printers, and VR visualizations were curated by Hannes Mayer. Displaying a sensuality through its intense realism, the exhibition breaks new ground and questions the role of the architect in the profession of architecture as well as in the traditional context of a construction site.  The technologies on display were adapted by these architects and tested for the first time in the real world with the construction of DFAB house, which was built on the third tier of the NEST building in Zurich. The inhabitable three-story structure is the first to be built almost exclusively with robots and digital technologies, designed from the computer screen up.  “But there’s no repetitiveness anywhere—except for maybe the screws,” said Dillenburger.  For the designers, the process of building the house itself was also a process of changing perspective and expectation. The new opportunities for digitizing age-old building methods like pouring concrete slabs, assembling timber structures, and shaping formwork further an already pressing question the profession is facing. As Kohler asks of his colleagues, “Is research the future of architecture, the core of the profession?”  But the technologies themselves, and their presentation, reinforce their reality and existence in the "now"—this is not a futuristic exhibition. Mayer has adroitly positioned standout pieces of text, like “Architect” and “A Robot” amidst 1:1 models of digitally fabricated, full-size mullions, real-time process videos, and even a complete piece of a detailed, 3D-printed concrete slab.  “It evokes an attractive industrial logic, as well as suggests a recipe,” says curator Mayer, gesturing to the thick black text that accompanies the eye as visitors travel around the non-linear exhibition floor, including the larger-than-life title type of How to Build a House.  And this recipe is still being tinkered with. “Concrete, like architecture, is only limited by convention,” Dillenburger told AN as he gestured to 3D-printed concrete details. “It can be freed if we change our ideas about what it should look like.”
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A collaboration of Dutch companies wants to 3D print an entire pedestrian bridge

Three Dutch organizations—the materials company DSM, the engineering firm Royal HaskoningDHV, and the 3D printer manufacture CEAD—have teamed up to create a printer capable of printing continuous glass- or carbon-fiber-reinforced thermoplastics. Currently, they are demonstrating the capabilities of printing structural elements, and even, they hope, entire pedestrian bridges, with CEAD’s CFAM Prime printer which can create parts as large as 13 feet by six-and-a-half feet by five feet. While formwork molds have previously been created by large-scale printers and then used in turn create structural parts, this is one of the earlier examples of the potential of 3D printing to create large polymer structural elements, and, possibly, entire bridges. The firms say that combining polymers with continuous fibers allows for the construction of lightweight, high-strength elements ideal for infrastructure solutions, and while other 3D printed building materials have run into trouble when it comes to cold temperature and exposure to the elements, the designers hope that these fiber-and-plastic combos can weather storms as well as any traditional building—though it remains to be seen if these 3D-printed elements would be able to address the brittleness problem sometimes faced when plastics are used for larger structures. Maurice Kardas, the business development manager of Royal HaskoningDHV, told 3Dprint.com that “fiber-reinforced plastic bridges have been known for their long life spans and lower overall costs in comparison with steel bridges. Now we will be using a new 3D printing technology which lets us at scale make fiber-reinforced plastic parts. through adding sensors to the bridge we can make a ‘digital twin’ of the bridge itself. these sensors can predict and optimize maintenance, ensure safety and lengthen the life span of bridges.” While the team cites sustainability as a possible benefit—noting the polluting nature of concrete—these forms still rely upon plastics, in this case Arnite which is a rigid PBT or PET. Composites like these remain notoriously difficult to recycle, and are often petroleum-based. Still, additive manufacturing processes often produce less waste, take less time, and hopefully, will offer durability advantages over other existing processes.
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To celebrate the Bauhaus centennial, German researchers show off new robot printer

This summer, to celebrate the centenary of the Bauhaus, the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar in Weimar, Germany, hosted an exhibition called sumaery2019. At the exhibition, the university showcased some of the latest innovations in robotics, displaying a cable-driven robot that 3D printed cementitious material, designed by a team led by professor Jan Willmann, in cooperation with the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and the University of Duisburg-Essen. The robot extruded and deposited layers of the "concrete" onto a platform to create a shell around a large steel structure. The robot moved over long distances across four cables, similar to how cameras work for sports broadcasts. (the Weimar robot also featured a high-resolution camera to capture what it was doing). The benefits of the robotic cable system, according to Willmann, is its ability to “to perform a variety of non-standard building processes, beyond the workspace restrictions imposed by conventional CNC-machinery.” He goes onto explain that “this means that the required components can be produced at full-scale, on-demand, on-site, and in practically unlimited forms and sizes, eliminating the need for additional formwork, transportation over long distances, and standardized parts.” The researchers hope that the robot showcased new possibilities in computational design and formwork-less additive manufacturing. “The results not only demonstrate the innovative aesthetic and functional potential of the robotic process," said Willmann, "they also provide a fascinating insight into the future of digital design and the manufacturing process in a real-world scenario.”
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New 3D-printed, crash-proof benches debut in Times Square

This May, designer Jou Doucet x Partners, working with the Times Square Design Lab (TSqDL), debuted a 3D-printed concrete alternative to the now-common heavy concrete planters, bollards, and more traditional “Jersey” barriers that surround public places and prominent buildings across the country. Anti-terror street furniture is the often ugly urban peripheral that plugs into our cities to add a new feature—specifically the capability to stop speeding vehicles and other terrorists attacks. Doucet’s design offers what he calls “a different, humanist approach to security.” The project was commissioned for the second annual TSqDL initiative, which was created to bring new design ideas to the public realm—specifically, New York's crossroads of the world that is visited by nearly half-a-million people daily. On display and in use since May, the Rely Bench comprises gently rounded, interconnected concrete platforms that each weigh over one ton. With its modular components connected with steel rods, the benches are designed to almost act like a net, catching a vehicle and absorbing its impact. The design is nice enough, but the real innovation is in the method used to make it. The Rely Bench is the first product to be manufactured through HyCoEx, a fully digital production method that street furniture company Urbastyle believes will “revolutionize the concrete furniture market”. Little information has been made available about the technology other than it uses an extrusion technique powered by a 3D printing robotic arm developed by Concrenetics and produced by UrbaStyle in partnership with Autodesk, ABB and Cementir Group. Though extrusion is common with plastics, HyCoEx is the first method to adopt it for concrete; other methods primarily use deposition, layering concrete to build the final form. The benefits of 3D printing over traditional concrete casting include lowering production costs resulting from reduced waste material and the lack of required mold. Indeed, Urbastyle believes that the HyCoEx method “may one day completely replace mold production.” Perhaps most significantly, HyCoEx empowers designers to efficiently create any form or surface pattern they can imagine. The company sees it as a type of “artisan” technology that removes the separation between design and fabrication. The Times Square installation was just a prototype of the design and technology, but prepare to see more of both soon. The Rely is currently being tested against international crash barrier standards.
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Researchers and students at ETH Zurich print complex columns for dance festival

For the Origen Festival in Riom, Switzerland students in the Masters of Advanced Studies in Architecture and Digital Fabrication program at ETH Zurich, guided by researcher Ana Anton, 3D printed nine unique, computationally-designed columns with a new layered extrusion printing process developed at the university over the past year and a half. ETH students and researchers created nine unique, 9-foot-tall concrete columns that came together as an installation titled Concrete Choreography. The arrangement of undulating columns served as an environment for dance performances. “The columns create the stage and set for the artists to dance in between, in front, around, to hide, climb and interact in many ways with this unique, monolithic architecture,” explained Anton. “Each column has its own particular expressivity and dynamics, just like the dancers.” The students used an automated, formwork-less process, called Concrete Extrusion 3D Printing (CE3DP), a printing method that continuously deposits and extrudes concrete in .2-inch-thick layers to create complex geometries. Anton has been experimenting with the process for a year and a half, as part of an interdisciplinary collaboration between ETH's Digital Building Technologies and the chair of Physical Chemistry of Building Materials. Anton says that for the column’s nine unique forms, “students worked towards finding unique designs suitable to this fabrication method, meaning more fluid geometries locally detailed using material-driven ornament,” going on to say that the geometries they worked with are only possible because of the high-resolution printing of CE3DP. ETH’s Digital Building Technologies lab claims this method comes “with the advantage of precise, digitized shape customization [that is] ideal for the creation of freeform shapes that would be impossible to produce with any other technology on the market.” CE3DP also has the added advantage of being fast; the columns each took just 1.5-to–2.5 hours to create. According to Anton, “The forest of columns should work both as performance space but also as an outdoor installation which invites visitors to explore the garden before and after the dance.”
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GXN thinks the future of construction could be flying 3D printers

Most 3D printers, no matter their size, operate in a pretty similar way: they move along a grid to deposit material, sliding on axes in a fixed manner within a frame. Even those with more flexible arms remain fixed at a point. GXN, the research-focused spinoff of the Danish architecture firm 3XN, is looking to change that, using high-tech robotics to “break the grid” and offer new possibilities in additive manufacturing. Along with the Dansk AM Hub, a foundation that supports experimentation in additive manufacturing, and MAP architects, GXN has been hacking printers—both mechanically and virtually—to create prototypes that can move through space on land, in the air, and underwater. Their speculative Break the Grid proposal imagines a near future where our buildings and infrastructure can be created and maintained with the help of autonomous, robotic 3D printers that move beyond the normal confines of additive manufacturing devices. The team started by asking themselves, “Where could we take this if we let our imagination run a little bit free, and what sort of impact would we imagine additive manufacturing having in a positive way in the built environment?” said Kåre Stokholm Poulsgaard, Head of Innovation at GXN. “The goal was to learn something about this," said Stokholm Poulsgaard, “so we had this idea that we wanted to be able to set the printers free, so we needed to understand robotics and mobility, and what this means." GXN took a hacker’s approach to the project. They used existing products, like simple stepper motors and 3D printers already available on the market, to create both mechanical and virtual prototypes. “We wanted to create something new, something that we haven't seen before, but we also wanted to make sure that whatever we created was tied into existing technologies and capabilities,” explained Stokholm Poulsgaard. Along with roboticist Teodor Petrov, the GXN team began creating a series of robots, using both cheaply available parts and bespoke components. They also created a variety of digital models and plans, virtual hacks, that in their final form look like something out of a sci-fi video game. The team behind Break the Grid has selected three main areas where they see autonomous 3D printers as prime opportunities. The first of these is in addressing global problems in maintaining infrastructure across the globe. It’s estimated that in the U.S. alone, unaddressed issues with highways, bridges, and the like could result in $4 trillion in losses to the economy by 2025. GXN imagines walking robots that could repair microcracks in concrete infrastructure before they eventually become far larger by allowing in water and oxygen, causing corrosion. Inspired by studies done at Rutgers and Bingham Universities, the team imagined a 3D printing robot that deposits the fungus Trichoderma reesei, which encourages calcium carbonate to form, filling in this microcracks and staving off further damage, especially in smaller and more isolated parts of the road. GXN also proposes using 3D printing robots on the seafloor to help minimize the damage from coastal storms by 3D printing artificial reefs made from a bio-based cement derived from oysters as a binder. For addressing climate issues on land—or above it, as it were—they imagined drone-printers that can help repair, enhance, and build sections of high-rise facades in order to support their thermal bridges, which are, the team claims, responsible for as much as 30 percent of a building’s heat loss. GXN hopes that robotic additive manufacturing devices like these could someday work alongside humans to change how construction happens. “Construction is a very large sector in society,” said Stokholm Poulsgaard, “and it's one of the last large sectors to see comprehensive automation. While all these other sectors are seeing very large productivity growth, the built environment is absolutely flat-lining.” Still, it’s important not to forget that there are many workers in construction. Stokholm Poulsgaard says it’s not about replacing human workers, but about understanding how technology can work alongside people. “Let's say we have these robots on a building site,” he said, “how do they interface with traditional construction techniques and the people working there in ways that add value and are meaningful? Because robots can do some things better than humans, that goes for artificial intelligence as well, but there's a lot of stuff it cannot do. How do we let the robots do what they do best to free up people to do what they do best?” The other hope, besides increases in productivity, safety, and efficiency is added design freedom for architects. “Additive manufacturing promises variation at less or no extra cost,” said Stokholm Poulsgaard, “because they allow you to link up with parametric programs and then mass produce variations of the same components, for example, at a very low cost compared to if you had to do them by hand or traditional means.” At the moment mobile 3D printing remains purely speculative, but GXN hopes that drones and ROVs will become normal occurrences on construction sites in the near future.
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Iris van Herpen collaborates with architects for hypnotizing couture presentation

Since Dutch designer Iris van Herpen opened her eponymous atelier in 2007, the brand has become the face of high-tech fashion. Often the first to embrace new technologies like laser cutting and 3D printing in her fluid and futuristic forms, van Herpen has designed pieces worn by the likes of Solange and Rihanna, and, on the streets of Paris this past July 1st, Céline Dion During the presentation of van Herpen’s latest collection during Paris’s Haute Couture week, titled Hypnosis, her already alien and energetic forms came alive. The clothing literally moved on the models as they passed through a large, also motorized, ring hung in the Élysée Montmartre.  Inspired by the fluidity and complexity of natural forms, van Herpen designed 19 different looks made from traditional materials like silk and satin, as well as aluminum and stainless steel. The fabric itself was guided by engineering, with plotter machines and laser cutters working alongside hand stitching. What really stood out, though, were the actual moving parts. Dresses were mounted with metal pieces and fabric flanges that rotated around, and in the center of the runway was a large moving circle, a motorized ring called Omniverse by kinetic sculptor Anthony Howe, a "portal" designed to evoke the “universal life cycle,” according to the artist. The dresses’ moving components were devised by experimental sculptor Philip Beesley (PB), along with architect Rolf Seifert. The duo behind PB, who also led the design of the moving metal augmentations that sprout off the garments, generally works on public buildings and art, along with experimental installations—including immersive textile environments. The pair also have architectural relationships with the Living Architecture Systems Group, the School of Architecture and Faculty of Engineering at the University of Waterloo, the architectural practice of Rolf Seifert, and Riverside Architectural Press. It's hard to think of a technological setting so radical since Alexander McQueen's industrial robots to spray paint and dance along with the model in the Spring-Summer 1999 show. The results of these collaborations shook up viewers along the stage and on Instagram alike, as they pushed the bar even higher for integrating fabrication and robotics technology in haute couture, both on the garments and off. Hopefully, with Liz Diller, Kazuyo Sejima, and Cini Bouery designing for Prada and a trained-architect behind Louis Vuitton, we'll be seeing architectural thinking entering the fashion world both high and low more in the future.
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Exhibit Columbus's inaugural fellow program will go high-tech

Exhibit Columbus, the annual celebration of mid-century and contemporary design in Columbus, Indiana, will be showing off new possibilities of materials that unify support and envelope. This August,  two of the festival's six University Design Research Fellows will present this work as part of a brand new fellowship program.  Marshall Prado, a professor at the University of Tennessee, is creating a 30-foot-tall tower out of a carbon-and-glass fiber spun by robots. To manufacture Filament Tower, strands of the material were rotated on a steel frame and injected with resin, which is cured and then baked to increase its tensile and compressive strength. After cooling, the 27 computationally-designed components were removed from the steel frame and made to support themselves. The design was inspired both by historic architecture—akin to the churches of Eero Saarinen—and by biology. Filament Tower mimics the integrated, fibrous matrices of protein structures native to the connective tissues found in plants and animals, all while maintaining transparency. Christopher Battaglia, a research fellow at Ball State University, turned his skills to a different material for Exhibit Columbus: concrete. In DE|stress, a 35-foot-long, 9.5-foot-tall, pavilion, Battaglia critiques the common approach to prefab concrete construction, which often sacrifices either strength and control over form. DE|Stress is made from 110 curved panels created in a green-sand casting method, where the concrete, made of silica sand and bentonite clay, is worked while still wet. The same CNC robot that produced the mold, which is easily recyclable, later prints the material, giving the process a high degree of efficiency. “There’s no material waste in the form-making at all,” Battaglia claimed in a report from Autodesk. He also said that 3D printing gives a far greater control over shaping the vault-like structure, which is designed to encourage communal occupation and encounters.
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Could jump roping robots change how we think about architectural drawing?

"Movement was always an underlying instigator to how I look at form," explains architect Amina Blacksher, who began ballet at age six. Her work crosses boundaries and unifies seemingly disparate practices, as she now, among many other things, uses the tools and methods of an architect to investigate the place of robots in our lives and the relationship between the analog and digital. Most recently, her explorations of movement and robotics have taken the form of two arms that join humans to play jump rope.

Two industrial robotic arms from ABB, jointed similarly to a human's, swing ropes in partnership with a human while people Double Dutch amid the ropes. Custom 3D-printed grips are attached to the robotic manipulators to hold on to the ropes but also to allow for human error, like stepping on a rope, without toppling over the robots.

The Double Dutch project began at Princeton University during the Black Imagination Matters incubator and Blacksher has continued to develop the project, exploring the cultural history of jumping—from children’s games to the Maasai jumping tradition, trying to evoke that “cleansing moment” when suspended in the air.

The Double Dutch robots reveal the intelligence inherent in our bodies: the fact that children’s games possess so much kinetic knowledge that we often overlook and that there is such a profound complexity to sensing and moving through our world. "Rhythm is something we often take for granted," said Blacksher, “but even a simple circle with a jump rope is not a continuous velocity. It’s weighted, it has a rhythmic bias.” It requires choreography, something that is seemingly so "simple" for humans, children even, but incredibly difficult for robots. And these ironies and oppositions are revealing.

The Double Dutch project is part of Blacksher’s mission to help us realize new relationships to robots and a more complicated relationship to the typically divided analog and digital. It's also about normalizing what is likely to become increasingly commonplace human-robot relationships.

As an architectural problem, robots could change how we make and understand space. "No arc is absolutely the same," Blacksher said of the swings made by the jump rope robot. “I’m compiling these micro-deviations to create a pseudospace that could be 3D printed or spun." In a way, the arcs these robots make are a form of architectural drawing, but a drawing through physical space in three dimensions. This is leading Blacksher to ask: “How do you make a drawing that has a duration?”

Architecture began with hand drawing and has obviously been radically impacted by 2D CAD software, then powerful 3D software suites, and more recent technologies like virtual reality. Robotics has the power of "redefining what a drawing is," said Blacksher, moving it into 3D space and “using the body again in the generation of a drawing in a way that makes the design process exponentially more intelligent.” By using digital and physical technology in real space and establishing a unique circuit of the relationships between code, movement, embodiment, image, and space, architects might find new tools and new ways of thinking through design problems. "It’s in the relationship between the analog and digital where I’m interested in finding form."

Blacksher’s research is ongoing. Some of it will be incorporated into future classes at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and updated Double Dutch robots will be exhibited in Los Angeles this fall. Blacksher hopes to "raise the stakes of holding robots to accountability in terms of rhythmic precision, and their relationship to  space and time." She hopes we can see a future where "robots are friends, not just something purely functional."

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MIT and Maldivian researchers mimic nature to save sinking land

Human-driven climate change is threatening the coastal areas that nearly half of the world calls home with rising sea levels and increasingly severe storms. While dams, barriers, dredging, and artificial reefs are sometimes used to address these “forces of nature,” these strategies come with their own drawbacks and, in some cases, significant environmental and ecological impacts. Researchers at MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, in collaboration with Invena, a Maldivian organization, have proposed a solution that is inspired by nature. Called "Growing Islands," their project uses wave energy to grow sand formations in a way that mimics natural sand accumulation. The hope is that over time, sand can “grow” into new islands, beaches, and barriers that can protect coasts from erosion and save islands like the Maldives that are under threat of disappearing under rising seas. The Growing Islands project uses sand-filled 10-foot-by-10-foot canvas bladders with biodegradable 3D-printed interiors that use energy generated by waves to create new protective sand formations to rebuild beaches and act as “adaptable artificial reefs,” according to the lab’s website. The site goes on to explain: “By harnessing wave forces to accelerate and guide the accumulation of sand in strategic locations, and adapting the placement of the devices to seasonal changes and storm direction, our approach aims to naturally and sustainably reshape sand topographies using the forces of nature.” This past winter, the lab and Invena installed these devices off the Maldivian coast and are collecting data by way of on-the-ground measurements, drones, and satellite imagery. They hope to create an affordable, sustainable solution to protecting island nations—many under threat of disappearance—and coastal towns and cities from encroaching water. More dramatically, the lab also imagines that this process could be leveraged at a larger scale to create entire new islands over time.