Myles Sampson
Sand Printing
MIT Self-Assembly Lab
Year: 2017 Collaborators: Tibbits, Kernizan, Rustrom, Sampson

Jammed Granular Matter is the study of the manipulation of loose aggregate materials into load bearing architectural structures. Because of its availability and size, sand is an excellent granular material for scaled, reversible structures in construction. Sand forms to a mold when wet, but cannot hold its form or support a load without a mold. By incorporating the concept of mechanically stabilized earth--the placement of fibrous reinforcement in horizontal layers to strengthen soil during construction – the wet sand is structurally reinforced. The result is a load bearing structure, using sand as a compressive granular material, and natural fibers as the tensile reinforcement.

Jammed granular structures involves less preparation, is instantly solid, and completely reversible. “Sand Printing” has a noticeable increase in efficiency. Concrete has a very low tensile strength but is strong in compression, which behaves similar to granular matter that is reinforced with fibers. Without horizontal layers of reinforcement combined with wet aggregate, the shear stress caused by the weight of the sand would be sufficient to cause a sliding failure of the structure.