Design: Stuff Made Out of Other Stuff

You never know where you're going to find innovation. Here are four cases of old materials put to new uses, including creating new materials. What's it got to do with Remodeling? 

January 09, 2015

Photo: Slate.com

Well, for starters, there must be something you can do with all those drywall buckets.
 
Design: The Transformer Pizza Box
First up is William Walsh's "transformer" pizza box. Inspired by his experience eating delivery pizza with his college buddies, Walsh designed and patented a pizza box that transforms into serving plates and then into a compact storage container for leftovers. Wish we had these on the jobsite.
 
Technology: 3-D Printing with Real Wood, Stone, and Metal
Next comes 3-D printing with real materials, like wood, metal, and stone. Lately 3-D printers have come down in price into the $2,500 range, so it won't be long before every remodeling design shop will be printing out project models to enhance their sales presentations. But until now, the filaments used by these printers have been limited to run-of-the-mill plastics that make the printed output look like, well, plastic.
 
A startup called Makerbot is about to change all that. The company's 3-D printers work by melting a thin plastic filament and depositing it like cake icing on a printing bed, where it hardens. Recently the company announced three new filaments that simulate the look and feel of real wood, stone, and metal. The filaments are still mostly plastic, but they have enough particulate wood, stone, or metal in them to look and feel like the real thing.
 
Energy: Making Fire from Ice
We've all heard about tap water you can light on fire allegedly because of methane gas contamination from fracking, a high-tech process that forces the release of natural gas trapped in shale rock formations. Now, Japan has announced its intention to renew efforts to mine methane hydrate. Also known as "flaming ice," the naturally-occurring material consists of methane gas molecules trapped in crystalline ice. 
 
Environmentalists worry that full-scale mining will release large amounts of methane into the atmosphere, speeding global warming, but research shows that it may be possible to harvest the ice-trapped methane and replace it with carbon dioxide for a potential energy-planet win-win. 
 
Design: Decorating With Client Selfies?
Chinese artist Zhang Bojun has been creating mosaic tapestries using images of thousands of people he has photographed over the last seven years. When viewed from a distance, the miniaturized photos create a plaid-like pattern. Can it be very long before your clients request custom wallpaper made from mosaics of family photos?

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