3D printing is quickly creating new trends in building technology. California-based architecture firm Emerging Objects recently presented the Quake Column, an innovative pillar of 3D printed concrete able to withstand earthquakes. The design is inspired by an ancient masonry technique: “The interlocking stone of Incan structures creates an absence of resonant frequencies and stress concentration points. The dry-stone walls built by the Incas could move slightly during an earthquake and resettle without the walls collapsing, a passive structural control technique employing both the principle of energy dissipation and that of suppressing resonant amplifications. Inca walls also tend to incline inwards by 3° to 5° and the corners were rounded, which contributes to their stability”. 

The unconventional column is made from neighboring blocks which interlock perfectly. Unlike the ones used in Incan constructions (which weighed several tones), these units are hollow and lightweight, opening up an array of possibilities. Bricks are designed in CAD tools to fit together like a 3D puzzle and then printed in cement. According to the project developers, “each block is numbered to designate its place in the construction sequence. Additionally, each block has a built in handle for easy lifting, control and placement of the massive 3D printed blocks”. What are your thoughts on this new breakthrough in construction technology?