3D Printing in Construction

An accomplisment of the 21st century that’s changing the way the world looks at construction — forever.

What is 3D printing?

3D printing essentially begins with a simple digital file. Just like printing on paper, the process is made ‘3D’ by printing layer upon layer on top of one another until the process is complete, and the digital file is rendered a physical object.

In recent years, engineering & research in 3D printing has evolved drastically. From building parts of major buildings or residences, to miniature everyday objects, 3D printing isn’t the vague and expensive process that it once was.

Industrial 3D printing has evolved to accomodate concrete and other hard composites that are now capable of a printing on a much larger scale of operation & production than in the past. The mixture of concrete used in 3D printed buildings for example are a great deal thicker that the regular kind, which is actually ideal for 3D printing since it needs much less time to ‘set and cure.’

Architecture & Design are on the cusp of a brand new era of construction, one where construction and artistry merge. This new technology unites a past world where 90 degree angles reigned supreme, and is merging traditional construction with artistry fueled by mathematical architectural complexity.

World’s First 3D Printed House

World’s first 3D-printed apartment building constructed in China

While architectural firms compete with their designs for 3D-printed dwellings, one company in China has quietly been setting about getting the job done. In March of last year, company WinSun claimed to have printed 10 houses in 24 hours, using a proprietary 3D printer that uses a mixture of ground construction and industrial waste, such as glass and tailings, around a base of quick-drying cement mixed with a special hardening agent.
Surprisingly, the construction industry hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years. Oh, there are new things happening in mega-construction projects; larger skyscrapers, longer bridges and other huge structures; but not in day-to-day construction; that’s pretty much stayed the same. Other than a few innovative materials and techniques, along with a greater reliance on power tools, home building is pretty much the same today, as it was 100 years ago.
That might all be changing soon. 3D printing, which has been the realm of engineering test labs, may make a drastic change in the ways that our building structures are built. In recent years, 3D printers have moved out of the engineering laboratory, where they’ve been hidden for over 20 years, and are beginning to be used for other things. Artists have discovered this new medium, and yes, it’s being looked at for construction as well.

The construction industry is poised to take advantage of 3D printing, and not only will this new construction have a huge impact on the construction industry, the cost benefit of 3D printing on such a large scale trickles down to the consumer as well.

Advantages of 3D printing in the construction industry:
  • Faster and More Efficient Construction
  • Reduced Labor Cost
  • Reduced Waste
  • Safer Proceses
  • Safe for the Environment

Although this tech is new and constantly evolving, and solving problems like large scale printer portability and expanding into more materials that can be used, the future of 3D is clear— a more artsy and mindful architectural revolution is happening right in front of our eyes.

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