5 Ways 3D Printing Is Changing the Construction Industry
2022 Dec 21st
The field of 3D printing has gone from novelty to hobby to manufacturing, and now, it has entered architecture and building. Learn about five ways 3D printing is changing the construction industry right now.
Using 3D printing in construction reduces waste. The construction industry currently generates a lot of waste, from lumber scraps to insulation materials to leftover pipe, tile, and wiring.
3D printing can use recycled materials, and much of what is printed can also be disassembled and recycled. Using 3D printing technology also provides more precise control of material usage. When you print a house out of concrete, you use only as much concrete as is necessary to print the foundation and walls, producing almost no waste. Zero-waste construction becomes a possibility with the use of 3D printing.
NASA endorsed an AI design for a 3D-printed house for astronauts that could be built on Mars. But here on Earth, 3D printing is already in use for home and commercial building construction.
Designs for 3D printing can be intricate and elaborate. Printers can construct large parts of buildings all in one piece, making them stronger and more durable. New forms become possible where individual parts once had to be manually connected, potentially creating weaker points in the structure. Additive techniques can also create decorative elements in far less time than it would take to hand-carve or cast them.
Using 3D printing in construction cuts costs by wasting less material and by requiring less labor and a shorter supply line. The strong 3D printing materials needed for the construction of modular 3D buildings and parts can be sourced closer to the job site and the machinery that will use the materials.
Materials used to construct buildings with 3D printing are still fairly limited, but as the industry adopts the technique more widely, new materials will likely be developed to print more diverse materials. Materials that 3D printers currently use include metals, plastics, clay, and cement.
Building a house using 3D printing is much faster than using workers to frame up walls in the traditional way. Homes that used to take weeks can now be constructed in a matter of days or even hours. Savings on labor costs contribute to the ways 3D is changing the construction industry.
Construction sites are inherently dangerous, but they are less so when 3D printing technology is in use. When constructing printed houses, workers don’t have to use nail guns or risk their safety guiding cement trucks and the materials they pour into foundation frames.
The printer handles all the changes in direction without construction workers’ intervention. Fewer worker injuries also translate into greater speed and reduced costs. Plus, workers won’t be sidelined by injuries, and compensation claims will be lower.
3D printing of residential homes is set to take off in the coming years. The technique will also expand to creating pre-printed components of larger commercial buildings. Architects will use 3D printing to create impressive models that bring blueprints to life for clients who prefer having a tangible way to demonstrate their ideas. And workers will appreciate the lower risk and faster completion of the projects they construct.