3D PRINTING IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY?
Posted: Monday, October 16th, 2017 at 7:00am
Would you live in a house that came out of a printer?
You may laugh, but this technique is on its way to the UK Construction Industry.
3D printing has taken the world by storm. With the ability to print anything you want, at your fingertips, it’s no wonder the designs are getting bolder and braver.
The latest development is bringing 3D printing into the construction industry and it begs some important questions. What is 3D Printing and how does it work?
Fix Radio takes a closer look...
3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file.
A 3D printer can make anything from dinner plates to plastic cups, metal machine parts, food or even human body parts. (You heard it here first!)
You start by designing a 3D object on a computer, connect it to a 3D printer, and you’re away!
The printing method is somewhat unusual; it prints thousands of tiny pieces and forms layers, those layers stick together to form a solid object. Each layer can be very complex, giving you the ability to create moving parts like hinges and wheels.
It's the opposite of subtractive manufacturing (cutting or hollowing out a piece of material with machinery) and it uses less material than traditional manufacturing methods.
You could print a whole wheelchair if you wanted – seat, back rest, wheels, handrails - ready assembled, without using any tools. Likewise, you could also print actual tools.
A 400 square foot house was recently built by Apris Cor, a Russian 3D building company, in under 24 hours and cost just $10,000! The materials were 3D printed in China and then assembled to form the finished product.
“Printing of self-bearing walls, partitions and building envelope were done in less than a day: pure machine time of printing amounted to 24 hours,” the company said.
A Chinese construction company managed to fully print an entire two-storey house on-site, although this took rather longer, at 45 days.
In Dubai, an ambitious young team is planning to build a 3D-printed skyscraper, and the United Arab Emirates government has said it wants 25% of buildings to be 3D- printed by 2030.
What does this mean for those working in the construction industry?
Well, no one in the industry (as yet) seriously envisions 3D printing replacing traditional construction techniques. The most likely scenario for the immediate future is that 3D printing will be used to make specific building components, not the whole building itself.
Whether these will be limited to small electric sockets or girder brackets, or larger- scale floor panels, or even entire walls remains to be seen.
So don’t fear, your jobs are still safe....for now.
Have you had any experience of 3D printing? Or would a 3D printer make your life easier for certain jobs?
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