What You Need to Know About 3D Printing in Construction
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3D printing for construction is continuing to revolutionize the AEC industry, from lowered costs to greater sustainability. Here’s what you need to know.
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3D printing, also referred to as Additive Manufacturing (AM), is a sequential, computer-controlled layering of materials to develop 3D shapes. It is especially useful for manufacturing components that are geometrically complex.
It was first developed in the 1980s. However, at that time, 3D printing was an expensive and cumbersome operation, and hence could not be widely applied.
It is only since the 2000s that 3D printing has become more affordable and straightforward. Now, it has a wide range of uses, including tool and component manufacturing, product design, aerospace engineering, and more.
3D printers are not too different from desktop inkjet printers. A software program instructs the printer on what it needs to print. In the case of 3D printing for construction, it is a Building Information Modeling (BIM) or Computer-Aided Design (CAD) program does this.
According to the program’s instructions, the printer begins to layer materials on a platform. Materials used include cement, plastics, and liquid metals, among others, which later dry or cool to form a solid structure. The process can be slow, but almost any shape can be created.
It is important to bear in mind that some materials, such as metal, can be expensive to print. In such cases, it may be more effective to print a mould, which can be used to create the final product.
Construction 3D printers can “print” whole buildings, in addition to construction components.
In fact, construction is generally well-suited to 3D printing, because a lot of the information required to develop a product will already exist due to the design process.
Furthermore, the AEC industry is already familiar with computer-aided manufacturing.
- 14Trees is aiming to increase the availability of affordable school buildings and homes around Africa, starting in Malawi.
- The world’s first 3D printed office building was unveiled in Dubai. It was designed by Gensler.
- The first 3D printed building in Europe, the BOD, managed to fulfil the continent’s strict building codes.
The 3D printing industry is predicted to grow at a compound yearly rate of roughly 17% from 2020 to 2023. (A report by Grand View Research put its CAGR at 91.5% from 2021 to 2028). APAC is expected to be the fastest-growing market. Furthermore, the growth of BIM might facilitate more use of 3D printing in construction.
One of the major factors fueling market growth is green construction projects. This includes using sustainable processes and materials to develop buildings with minimal environmental impact.
Initiatives such as the National Icons Competition, National Science Agenda, and Innovation Expo are further encouraging cutting-edge technologies such as 3D printing for construction. There are also increasing government efforts to facilitate 3D printing.
- The high capital investment might hinder the 3D printing market growth. Compared to traditional construction processes, the materials used in industrial and commercial 3D printers are expensive.
- The current lack of skilled labor can challenge growth prospects. Structural 3D printing requires a relatively niche skillset.
- Currently, 3D printers are not capable of producing a fully functional house. Only the walls and frame are built. Elements such as electricity, plumbing and windows are installed separately.
- Problems incurred due to bad weather are amplified with 3D printing. Furthermore, despite the image 3D printing evokes of automation, the printers need to be constantly overseen and monitored by humans.
- Laws and regulations regarding 3D printing for construction are not clearly defined. Until they are, 3D printing will not truly be able to make its mark in AEC.
Precision and lowered costs are well-known benefits of 3D printing, and we have already covered them elsewhere. Here, we will focus on the following:
More Sustainable and Less Wasteful
Because 3D printers use exactly the amount of material required for the final product, such as a wall or floor, there is significantly less waste. Furthermore, GCs and builders do not have to order in bulk, since they already know the amount of material they need.
Structural 3D printing could also reduce the amount of lumber used for a building’s framework.
This is one of the strongest points of 3D printing for construction. A traditional construction project might take months or even years to complete. However, 3D printers can finish a structure in days or even hours.
This is not only profitable, but offers quicker relief for poverty- and disaster-stricken areas.
More Customizable Forms
3D printers are known for their capacity to create atypically designed structures.
Reduced Worker Injury
Possible Allowance of Construction in Environments too Harsh or Dangerous for Humans, Such as Space
3D printing for architecture offers a promising future for the AEC industry, making it both more sustainable and more cost-effective.
As for reducing errors during construction, BluEntCAD offers photorealistic 3D rendering services, so you can get a precise idea of what you want your finished structure to look like. We also do 3D product rendering, if you’re thinking of adding in specific, detailed furniture.
We serve large homebuilders, remodeling companies, architectural and engineering companies, real estate developers, home renovation companies, home design companies, and design build contractors. Take a look at our portfolio to see how we’ve helped businesses like yours.
Ready to take your construction project to the next level with architectural 3D modeling services? Contact us now!
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