3D printing seems to be everywhere nowadays. From food production to manufacturing, industries across the globe are changing forever thanks to this technology. Since the construction industry is all about building from basic materials, it’s easy to see why 3D printing has made such an impact.
The most obvious application is 3D printing making it easier and more affordable to print materials in-house, but it doesn’t stop here. 3D printing also makes projects safer, greener, and helps when working with customers. Ultimately, there aren’t any downsides to embracing this new technology for those in the construction industry. Let’s break down the ways 3D printing benefits the entire industry.
1. Sustainable Materials Supply
As said before, one of the most obvious ways to utilize 3D printing is with supply costs. Most printing is done outside of the company itself which creates a long supply chain. This isn’t affordable or sustainable.
By printing materials in-house, companies no longer have to pay high transport costs. 3D printers only use exactly the amount of concrete, for instance, needed to build things like flooring or walls. This cuts down on environmental waste while reducing the in-house production cost. Seeing as how the construction industry currently contributes 50% of all landfill waste and 40% of worldwide energy usage, this is a big improvement.
2. Prevent Injuries
The construction industry has earned itself a reputation as one of the more dangerous industries to work in. This is an unfortunate side effect of working with heavy materials and machinery, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.
The U.S. Department of Labor reports 20% of all private industry deaths on the job happened in construction. The leading causes are known as the “fatal four:” falls, struck by object, electrocutions, and caught in between.
New technology like 3D printing makes construction sites safer in many ways. Because a bulk of the work can be handled by a machine, the building process is more precise. In addition, accurate models can be printed prior to construction and throughout the building process which helps workers understand the entire job site as it grows and changes. Ultimately, there are fewer surprises and fewer accidents.
3. Remote Locations
3D printing helps bring construction to places we’ve never been able to reach before. While this can be used on smaller scales in remote, rural parts of the world, it can also be used on an out of this world scale. For example, the European Space Agency is actually considering a 3D lunar village printed on mars with lunar soil. This project can begin construction in as few as 5 years, and it’s just one possibility in the world of remote building.
4. Flexible Designs
We’ve come a long way in the world of architecture and construction, but we’re far from the end of the road. 3D printers are revolutionizing the way we design and interact with buildings. One big shift is the rise of curvilinear structures rather than rectilinear structures. This is done with a concrete and composite mixture which can adapt to unique shapes.
We’re finally beyond the limits of working with only rectangles and straight lines. Thanks to 3D prototyping, this customization can be pushed further. Architects and construction workers now have the ability to test their limits both on a large and small scale. This website explores construction prototyping in detail.
5. Positive Reputation
Finally, the construction industry is able to repair its reputation. Over the years, construction companies have earned a reputation for being unsustainable, costly, and limited. They’re even thought of as unsafe, and this reputation scares many new workers away from the field. Thanks to 3D printing, it’s possible to make a change.
Like all industries, the construction industry needs to learn and adapt to this change. Things won’t be different overnight. It will take work and dedication to make 3D printing the new industry standard, but it’s more than possible.
As you can see, 3D printing has had quite the impact on construction. It’s taken off in the last few years as people search for more ways to be environmentally conscious as well as safer on job sites. Soon, this will be the new normal.