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Using Silkworms To Create Buildings

The 3-D printing industry is set to become the next big architectural trend.

You should not be asking yourselves “how” but rather, “how could it not?” With printers dropping in price from $2k – $10k when they first debuted, to just a little over a couple hundred dollars today, everyone can now own a personal insta-creating device. Schools, manufacturing companies, hospitals, and more have begun adapting to the new world of construction.

These devices are already remarkably eco-friendly themselves, but what about something even more green? Does it exist? The answer is yes, and you can find it in Asia and parts of Europe. Silkworms, tiny worms responsible for a variety of fabrics we wear today, are the next best thing to 3-D printers, and they come in such an abundant supply that it’s a wonder scientists didn’t turn to them sooner.

Researchers at MIT have created a way to manipulate Silkworms into constructing things for us. Rather than rely on the process of boiling cocoons to make filaments, as is required for silk making, they’ve decided to turn to robotics and mathematics.

Image

Image source: www.bitrebels.com

Essentially, a robot lays the basic foundation for a building, and silkworms are placed at the base of this foundation. Then, they go to work filling in the gaps.

“It’s a biological swarm approach to 3-D printing.”

3-D printers, at the moment, are limited in the scale of objects they can create. With silkworms, the potential is nearly endless. All they require is a frame, which is simple enough to create. Then, left to their vices, the silkworms will create the rest of the building, and extend the frame.

Concept Image by Softkill Design

Image source: www.3dprinterclassifieds.com

The silkworms are still able to continue construction up to 3 months after they’ve completed their work, at which point they will pupate into moths. However, their larvae can be used to create even more buildings, pavilions, structures, etc. It’s a remarkable possibility, and one that researchers are experimenting with alongside 3-D printers. The architectural world of tomorrow is turning into a technological marvel that we’ll be able to witness soon enough.

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