3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has recently grown in popularity in the construction and architecture industries. This article will look at the advantages of 3D printing for the construction industry and whether it is a viable alternative to traditional construction methods.
What Exactly is 3D Printing for Construction?
3D printing in construction is a method for printing concrete, polymer, metal, or other materials layer by layer on a 3D printer to create construction elements or entire buildings. The most common type of printer is one that uses a robotic arm to extrude concrete back and forth.
Benefits of 3D Printing for Construction
Although we have advanced technologies for constructing various structures, such as stable houses, apartments, and offices, is there still room for improvement? Yes, of course. Rebuilding entire cities following natural disasters, providing shelter for the homeless, and generally creating more sustainable habitats are just a few issues that 3D printing can help with.
1. Fast production
In the construction industry, 3D printing significantly reduces production time. It’s extremely fast; some can build a 600- to 800-square-foot (55- to 75-square-meter) home in less than 24 hours. In addition, 3D printers are fully automated, eliminating the possibility of human error.
The machine only needs to be monitored, but most manufacturing processes are automated. Also, 3D printers do not require any additional tooling. They have the structure programmed and simply build it; there is no need for extra support, different materials, or other considerations that traditional methods necessitate.
2. Almost Zero Material Waste
The main benefit of 3D printing in the construction industry is that it saves money on material waste. A 3D printer, used in robotic arms, only uses the exact amount of material required. Buildings constructed layer by layer and lattice structures on the inside can save money.
This is good for the environment. 3D printing has a lower environmental impact than traditional manufacturing methods. WASP, an Italian company, took 3D printing to the next level by designing the world’s largest 3D printers capable of producing homes using local materials and green energy. This translates to significantly lower emissions, which is a major issue in today’s construction industry.
3D Printing allows for less material and the involvement of fewer people in the construction process. Because of these factors, the cost of constructing structures is drastically reduced. We use only the amount of material we need when 3D printing structures.
4. Innovative design
The final but equally important advantage of 3D printing in the construction industry is the wide range of innovative solutions it provides. Because 3D technologies can be used at the design stage, they can help you plan your project better. Starting with CAD building plans, which are technical drawings that include all of the parameters, A 3D model of the construction can be created based on those drawings to meet the clients’ expectations and show them the best design solutions.
The Best 3D Printed Construction Projects
- WinSun’s 3D-Printed Apartment Block, Jiangsu Province, China
WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co. in China is no stranger to pushing the boundaries of 3D printing. It quickly gained the distinction of building the world’s tallest 3D-printed structure, a 5-storey apartment block, after completing ten 3D-printed houses in less than 24 hours. The apartment building was created using a 20-foot tall, 33-foot wide, and 132-foot long 3D printer, according to ArchDaily.
WinSun used a mixture of glass fiber, steel, cement, hardening agents, and recycled construction waste to build the structure layer by layer.
- Municipal Building, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
In early 2020, Dubai opened the world’s largest 3D printed building, a 6,900 square-foot administrative building for the Dubai Municipality, not to be outdone. When it comes to construction, Dubai has a history of aiming for the impossible. According to SingularityHub, Dubai collaborated on the municipal building project with Boston-based Apis Cor, which is known for building a 3D printed house in Russia in under 24 hours.
The building is similar to a traditional structure that is made of precast concrete and reinforced with rebar and concrete. After the structure was completed, contractors were hired to add finishing touches such as windows and a roof.
- Two-Storey Detached House, Beckum, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
According to ArchDaily, PERI GmbH and MENSE-KORTE ingenieure+architekten collaborated on Germany’s first-ever 3D printed house, a two-storey building with approximately 860 square feet of livable space per floor. The project makes use of a unique 3D printer known as BOD2, which was developed by the Danish company COBOD.
According to ArchDaily, it can print up to 10 square feet of double-skin wall in just five minutes and only needs to be calibrated once before starting work on each section.
The benefits of 3D printing in the construction industry are evident. The ability to speed up projects, create custom machine parts, reduce construction waste, and change the way projects are completed in general will all help to elevate construction to new heights. The industry is in the midst of a major transformation, and 3D printing is one piece of technology that will assist the industry in accomplishing this.
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Alaa Alghadban is the owner of Sana Global Projects, the trusted construction company in Nigeria that specializes in industrial buildings, heavy industries, light industries, warehousing, food and beverage plants and outlets.