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3-D Printing: Dramatically Shaping the Construction Paradigm

Construction Tech Review | Monday, May 20, 2019

The construction sector is looking forward to a much-anticipated development. 3D printing technology is well on track to make its presence felt in the building construction. The technology of 3–D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a computer controlled sequential layering of materials to form any three-dimensional object.  This technology has the potential to be of use in many areas, including manufacturing, product design, electronic equipment production, metalwork, and plastic products. The prospects of using 3-D printing in building construction are fascinating.

3-D printing tools required for the construction industry include a 3-D printer. A model of the building to be constructed is first created with the help of computer-aided design (CAD). This can be further, rendered in both 3-D and 2-D formats. After that, the printer reads the plan and proceeds to lay layers of the chosen material to form the required structure. The technology can be used to print either selected components or a complete building as a whole.

The advantages that come with the application of 3-D printing technology are many. It facilitates a sophisticated building construction mechanism with the help of intricate geometric shapes and various other smart building features. It is also expected to make the process of construction many times faster. The possibility of a substantial reduction is in cost and wastage of materials can also be expected. Because of the way it functions, it makes next-generation customizations easily possible. By understanding the design, color, materials, and other requirements and specifications, high-tech construction modules help raising a building in a matter of days.

The idea of printing buildings does seem far-fetched, as does the idea of living in a neighborhood full of 3-D printed houses.  Several projects successfully undertaken and completed using 3-D printing technology can dispel the doubts regarding the viability of its application to construction. In 2014, engineers successfully printed a steel node for a light-weight structure. In Spain, the first 3-D printed pedestrian bridge was inaugurated in 2016. A 3-D written housing plan is coming up for the farmers and weavers of a village somewhere in Latin America.

Just like any other developing technology, the technology of 3-D printing in rendering buildings has become a subject to some speculation. There are concerns about the safety and the stability of the 3-D printed structures, which can be dispelled by making the technology more adaptive to construction technology. A few years down the lane, streets full of 3-D printed buildings could be a reality.  

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