The rise of 3D printing in construction (and why you should take note)

By maria collazo

The integration of 3D printing use in construction has slowly been increasing, with architects and contractors beginning to build the first 3D residential structures.

According to our sister publication Construction Global, 3D printing could revolutionize the construction industry as well as affect housing affordability due to a less expensive process.

How is 3D printing done?

The 3D printing process is completed using large printers that use a special concrete and composite mixture that is thicker than regular concrete. This allows the mixture to be self-supporting as it sets. As such, 3D printed components do not have the same design constraints that may hinder current construction methods.

RELATED TOPIC: Autodesk teams with MX3D to create a functional 3D printed bridge in Amsterdam

Curved concrete structures created through 3D printing can also be hollow, requiring less material and creating a space for building services inside the structural elements.

Success stories

Winsun, a Chinese construction company, has claimed to have built 10 3D constructed houses in one day at a cost of just $5,000 per house. Earlier this year, Winsun took its 3D printing construction beyond single houses, building a five-story apartment building and an 11,840-square-foot villa.

RELATED TOPIC: How Walsh Construction helped restore the oldest roadway in Wisconsin

Winston used a large 3D printer that fabricates the building parts in large pieces at the company's facility. Winston then assembled the pieces on-site adding steel reinforcements and insulation.

Winsun says the 3D process saves between 30 and 60 percent of construction waste, can reduce production times by 50 to 70 percent and reduce labor costs by 50 to 80 percent, according to an article from CNET.

“Contour crafting technology has great potential for automating the construction of whole structures as well as sub-components,” said USC professor Behrokh Khoshnevis in an interview with Business Insider.

RELATED TOPIC: Amazon launches online 3D printing store

Khoshnevis hopes to develop a gigantic 3D printer that could print an entire house in a single run, including the structure and all its conduits.

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