3D-Printed Meeting Space

A year ago, industry experts helped us speculate about the future impact of 3D printing on meetings and conventions. But we never imagined that it would so quickly be used to help create actual event space.

Photography by Ossip van Duivenbode

When we decided to make 3D printing the cover story in our March 2015 issue, we weren’t quite sure how the revolutionary technology would affect the meetings industry. There were so few examples of it actually being put to use in our sector, we even talked about delaying the story. We reconsidered, however, figuring that part of our job is to push the industry — and ourselves — to think creatively about the future.

With 3D printers, we’re going to design whatever the heck we feel like.

Some of the people we interviewed for the story suggested that 3D printing might be used to create custom giveaways, once the costs of production came down. Others talked about using the technology to prototype their ideas, with good results. And Darren Pasdernick, GES’s executive creative director, took a larger view. “When we design exhibits,” he said, “we’re always trying to create cool, organic shapes. But then the shop comes back and says, how the heck are we going to build that? With 3D printers, we’re going to be able to design whatever the heck we feel like, and they’ll just print it out. I think we’re going to see a lot more organic and exotic-looking shapes and designs as we move forward.” 

Pasdernick’s vision has come to pass — in a big way. DUS Architects, a Dutch firm, has used 3D printing to help create the façade for temporary meeting space for the European Union Council in Amsterdam, where the EU presidency will be based during the first half of 2016.media_DUS-EU-003OssipvanDuivenbode-827013

DUS, which is building the first entirely 3D-printed house in Amsterdam, used fabric combined with plant-based plastic that can be shredded and reused to create a swooping façade designed to playfully recall the sailing ships that once were built in the Dutch capital. Using the same kind of process as household 3D printers, DUS manufactured alcoves with 3D-printed benches.

At night, the sails are lit by pulsing light — fulfilling another one of our sources’ predictions: The true potential of 3D printing will be realized by combining it with existing technology to create immersive experiences.

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.