Printed Plastic Places
"Mass customization," contradictory though it may sound, has been successfully achieved in various niches of the manufacturing world for several years. The term refers to products coming off an assembly line that have been individually configured according to customer specifications. The same combination of customization and economy of mass production may be coming to architecture.
In the not-too-distant future, entire buildings may be produced in factories while responding — unlike today's "manufactured buildings" — to site-specific and project-specific requirements. Many of the architects and researchers who are studying the idea see new materials and processes as key to its feasibility.
One recent achievement on the path to the realization of mass customization is a demonstration of "SmartWrap." Philadelphia architecture firm KieranTimberlake Associates LLP used the material to create a temporary pavilion for an exhibition at New York's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
The 16-foot- (4.9-meter-) square, 24-foot- (7.3-meter-) high aluminum-framed pavilion was wrapped in a plastic composite that was manufactured by Dupont to the specifications of James Timberlake, Stephen Kieran, and their graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania. They "printed" designs onto the plastic sheeting — for function as well as decoration. >>>
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