3D-Printed Skyscraper Would Clean Itself and the Air Around It

The three-mile-high structure, developed by futurists, would have a smog-eating surface.

It looks like something straight out of the "The Jetsons," and that's because it is... sort of. This skyscraper, designed by material science company Arconic, is made from 3D-printed materials that are self cleaning. The materials also scrub smog from the surrounding air.

It's part of the company's "Jetsons" campaign that pays homage to the 1962 cartoon, envisioning what the world will look like in 2062 - the year the show was set.

Arconic's engineers are working with futurists to predict what type of architecture and technology will be most needed in several decades. The ability to 3D-print construction materials will allow them to create structures with more organic shapes, inspired by nature.

This three-mile high structure might be better suited in 2062, but most of the materials it will require are either in development or available on the market. For example, the existing technology that makes self-cleaning possible is called EcoClean and offers an alternative to conventional pane glass windows.

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"The functional coating provides aesthetics, it provides maintenance benefits, and it also provides a benefit to the surrounding environment by reducing the content of pollutants around it," Sherri McCleary, one of Arconic's chief materials scientists, told Business Insider.

Natural light and water vapor mix with EcoClean's coating to release free radicals, which pull pollutants from the air, while also breaking down and sloughing off dirt on the outside of the building.

Arconic is also developing retractable, all-glass balconies designed by Bloomframe. The robotic balconies are currently being showcased at trade shows, but will be ready for market soon.

According to McCleary, 3-D printing offers many more options than ever before for designers and architects working on skyscrapers, and will allow the buildings to withstand high winds and extreme climates.

Besides super tall, self-cleaning, air-scrubbing skyscrapers, Arconic is also designing and developing flying cars, lightweight car bodies and aerodynamic airplane wings in their Jetson-like efforts to mold the future.

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