01/24/2023 | News release | Distributed by Public on 01/25/2023 08:39
3D printing or additive manufacturing, is a technology that creates three-dimensional objects by building up layers of material, typically using computer-aided design (CAD) software.
3D printing technology is now being used in the construction industry to create a variety of structures and components, such as walls, roofs, and even entire buildings.
3D printing technology in construction offers multiple advantages over traditional construction methods.
Through 3D printing, construction process can become more efficient and quicker, complex geometries and shapes can be created quickly, and building components can be customized to specific site conditions or architectural designs, which can also reduce the labor costs associated with constructing a building or structure.
3D printing technology also contributes in sustainable construction practices by reducing the amount of waste generated during the construction process.
This article will outline the how can 3D printing transform the construction industry and what are the latest advancements in the technology.
How does 3D printing work in construction?
The first step in printing a three-dimensional architectural structure is to create a 3D model of the building that include details such as dimensions, material properties, and structural elements, by integrating computer-aided design (CAD) software.
Once the model has been created, it is "sliced" or modified into sets of instructions, aiding the 3D printer to build the layers of the structure. The slicing process is done using slicing software, such as Slic3r and Ultimate Cura, which read the 3D model and converts it into a file format that can be read by the 3D printer.
The 3D printer then builds the structure layer by layer using the sliced design, typically using an extruder head that melts a thermoplastic material and deposits it in the desired shape.
After printing, the structure may require some post-processing steps like sanding, polishing, painting or coating. Once all the components are printed, they are assembled together on the construction site to form the final structure.
The additive manufacturing technology is advancing quickly and has the potential to revolutionize the way we build structures in the future.
Machinery used in the process
For small-scale architectural models and prototypes-:
• Extrusion-based printers are used that employ heated nozzle to melt a thermoplastic material, which is then extruded layer by layer to create the final structure.
• Vat polymerization printers use liquid resin that is cured by ultraviolet (UV) light to create the final structure.
• Laminated object manufacturing (LOM) printers use sheets of material, such as paper or plastic, that are bonded together layer by layer to create the final structure.
• Directed energy deposition (DED) printers use a high-energy beam, such as a laser, to fuse or melt a powdered or wire-like material, which is then deposited layer by layer to create the final structure.
Whereas Powder-based printers are commonly used to create large-scale architectural structures, such as walls, roofs, and even entire buildings that use a binder or a glue to bind a powder-based material, such as concrete, layer by layer to create the final structure.
List of recent technological developments in 3D printing for construction
Multi-material 3D printersare being developed that can print with different types of materials, such as concrete and steel, in the same structure. This offers a chance for greater flexibility in the design and construction of buildings and structures.
Robotic 3D printing technologyare being experimented for constructing buildings and structures in remote and hard-to-reach locations, where access to materials and labor is limited. This technology can also be used for the repair and maintenance of existing structures.
Building information modeling (BIM)has become popular in 3D printing, as it allows architects and engineers to effectively plan, design, and construct buildings and structures, and to ensure that all components are properly aligned and connected.
4D printingis a new development in 3D printing technology that involves the creation of materials that can change shape or properties in response to different stimuli, such as temperature, humidity, or light. This technology has the potential to create smart products, self-assembling products, and self-healing materials.
With advancing technology and advantages of 3D printing such as time and cost saving, the demand for 3D printing software and services is expected to be on the rise.
According to a report by BIS Research, the global 3D printing software and services marketwas valued at $9.6 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $80.84 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 24.3% between 2022 and 2031.
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World's largest 3D printed building
The largest 3D printed building of the world constructed by Apis Cor is situated in Dubai.
It is an office building that is 9.5 meter high with 640 square meter floor space.
The construction company claimed that the building was completed by half of the labor usually employed and generated about 60% less waste than conventional construction methods.
The 3D-printing was held on site and the building was constructed in two weeks, which is quicker and effective, as compared to traditional constructing process.
Houston residential construction project: "Big laboratory" for testing the capability of 3D printing
Industrial-grade 3D printers are currently constructing a two-storied home in Houston.
The project is undertaken by three construction companies in collaboration - U.S. based Hannah, Cive and Peri 3D Construction based in Germany.
The construction team is testing the industrial printers to its extreme capabilities, aiming to find cost-effective techniques to build well planned and customized homes.
According to Hikmat Zerbe, the head of structural engineering in Cive, the 3D printing technology can offer ample opportunities for progress in construction activities.
The project has also been called a big laboratory for testing the limits and capabilities of 3D printing technology in building large scale structures.
Zerbe said, "It's a case study. We're learning the capabilities of the machine, learning the reaction of the material under different weather conditions. We're learning how to optimize the speed of printing."
Issues with shortage of skilled construction labor, and infrastructure costs can be intelligently managed with 3D printing technology.
With robotics and automation technologies integrated with artificial intelligence and machine learning, 3D printing is becoming pivotal in construction industry.
Advantages such as faster construction, low waste, reduced labor costs and improved workplace safety, are growing the demand of 3D printing technology.
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