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New 3D Printed Modular Roof System

Everywhere we look 3D printing is making news. However, when we think or hear about 3D printing, we never think about the thousands of shanties with corrugated iron leaking roofs. A young ambitious team of Harvard graduates is arguing that we need to take the technology of 3D printing to the third world.

The team’s project “Resilient Modular Systems” (RMS) wants to provide third world countries with an alternative to the corrugated iron roofing. The graduates have noted that the iron roofs leak and rust, many of the homes are inhabitable, and how the sun heats up the roofs like an oven. Furthermore, in third world countries they don’t use insulation and the elements of the environment just pass right through these shanties. 

The young team behind Resilient Modular System has been working on two different solutions to address problems in the third world countries. First, the team is developing new types of material to use in shanties. The materials will use recycled 3D printed plastic that can be found throughout these countries. Secondly, they want to develop a clever way to construct these homes without using nails or screws. The team’s design uses a clicking system that snaps the pieces together like a LEGO block. 

The Resilient Modular System team is making headlines everywhere. In the inaugural Dean’s Design Challenge 2014, the team was awarded the 1st runner-up prize. They have also won 1 of 5 Editor’s Choice awards in New York at the World Maker Faire. Furthermore, at the Place by Design Competition the team is one of the finalists. However, they haven’t stopped here and continue to work on new patters and designs that will help them take their intriguing approach to third world countries.

The team leader is Wendy Fok, an architect and assistant professor at the University of Huston, where she is an expert in bioplastics. Fok told reporters that the main focus of the company and what it’s about is to bring innovative technology and products to the third world. The team has chosen the word resilient because of its meaning and how they are focusing on modular components that are made from composite materials.

The team is currently involved in a pilot project in the Dominican Republic, where they are exploring the use of local production methods. For the project they are using two different 3D printed prototypes that use recycled plastics from the regions. The design they will use in this project will be a four by four-foot plastic slab and a small easy to use brick to fill in the holes and make repairs. The design the team uses can easily be interchangeable and fit together from any direction. The material they are using can easily construct a room 12 by 12 feet and doesn’t need any support structures.

The idea behind the project is to bring the technology to third world countries to manufacture the parts there instead of overseas. Not only do they want to help these countries they are also looking for ways to help their economy. They will give local businesses a way to start-up and profit by locally making the 3D printed parts.


Julie Sinclair

Julie Sinclair

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