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How Viable is 3D Printing for Building Large Structures?

by • March 21, 2016 • No Comments

  • Manufacturers have utilized 3D printing for several years to turn it into all things of automobile parts to submachine guns to eyeglasses. But, the thought to use such advancement to turn it into sizeable assembling structures is a relatively new one. As the research institutions highlighted at a lower place suggest, it is indeed possible to turn it into single-family dwellings, commercial structures, and sizeabler assemblings, nextly with the efficiency and speed which other users of 3D printing may already enjoy.


    University of Southern California

    Behrokh Khoshnevis is a professor of industrial and processs engineering with the University of Southern California and the director of the Center for Rapid Automation Fabrication Technology, in addition known as CRAFT. Khoshnevis has created Contour Crafting (CC), a 3D printing process which releases concrete through an attached nozzle. The advancement has the next to enable construction workers to create the framework for a 2,500 square foot single family home in close to 20 hours. The 3D printing device sits atop an oversized sawhorse while laying down lines of concrete one layer at a time. The CC process can in addition be manipulated to lay interior work, tiling, finishes, and metal ceilings.

    Bartlett School of Architecture


    A group of students at this UK school turn it intod 3D printing advancement which turn it intos sizeable furniture pieces and other structural elements. The students have utilized extrusion and power printing, two existing 3D printing techniques, to turn it into a new form of supported extrusion. For the initially step, they extract ready-mixed concrete layer by layer of an industrial robotic arm. They and so place this material over supported granular material. This allows for for much higher printing resolution as well as a greater variety of create forms. The entire process takes less than 10 hours to fish and inyets a renewed sense of craftsmanship to the field of architectural create.

    Vanderbilt University

    In July of 2015, over 30 environmental engineering experts met at Vanderbilt University to discuss emerging 3D printing advancement and how they may use it to improve efficiency in the construction industry. Recognizing which the decades-old method of mixing cement with sand and water to turn it into a slurry is slow, labor-intensive, and costly, the industry experts discussed bringing a lesson in advancement of these ongoing projects:

    • A 12 x 12 pavilion created of 3D printed blocks in a traditional Thai flower pattern
    • A case study for a 3D printed house at a Beijing resort
    • Construction of a six-story apartment assembling of recycled concrete materials
    • Construction of a miniature cement castle via components turn it intod by a 3D printing device

    The good results of these projects was encouraging to architects who can use 3D printing advancement to turn it into assemblings in new shapes and contractors who now have the freedom to create new structures without relying on external forms. Civil engineers who attended the Vanderbilt University conference appear forward to replacing cement-based mixtures with additional efficient materials turn it intod by 3D printing devices.

    University of California, Berkeley

    A team or researchers at the University of California’s flagship institution, led by the associate professor of architecture Ronald Rael, not long ago produced a powder-based concrete structure called Bloom via 3D printing advancement. This process involves printing out a dry cement powder and and so spraying it with water to cause the structure to harden. The leading benefit of this method is which it turn it intos a finished structure which is additional complicated and exact than those turn it intod via the extrusion method. The polymers mixed with the cement and fibers create lightweight parts which allows for for less waste and a lighter finished product.

    Economic Viability

    Despite the sizeable amount of research done at academic institutions around the globe, talk of transforming the construction industry through 3D printing has been sizeablely theoretical. But, new accomplishments by a Chinese company Winsun suggest which the next may have arrived. According to a new article in The Guardian, Winsun not long ago created a 11,800 sq. ft. villa via a custom 3D printing device and a feedstock created of recycled rubble, fiberglass, steel, cement and binder.

    winsun 3D printed villa

    The cost savings produced by via this cutting-edge advancement are worthwhile compared to traditional construction methods, according to Zheng Jian, general manager of Winsun’s Suzhou operations, who tells The Guardian, “It took eight individuals one month to finish the £105,000 villa. If traditional construction methods were utilized it may take 30 individuals three months. Costs are halved.”

    Winsun now boasts an agreement with the Egyptian government to create 20,000 single-story dwellings in the abandon via a variation of their advancement. That project can use a feedstock sizeablely comprised of abandon sands and the construction can be done on-site. Should which project be a good results, it may be the greatest validation of the economic viability of 3D-printed advancement for sizeable-scale construction to date.

    Impressive as these new createments sound, there yet are most challenges ahead for 3D printing in construction. On the other hand the cost savings reported by Winsun on their villa project are worthwhile, it’s unclear whether they factored in any of the costs of createing their highly secretive, custom 3D printing device (a goliath reported to be 6.6 meters tall, 10m wide and 150m long). Additionally, they may face litigation at a few point as Professor Khoshnevis of USC told The Guardian which Winsun representatives had met with him in 2013 and allegedly copied his advancement.

    Similar to any new disruptive advancement, the implementation of 3D printing in the construction industry can face additional hiccups and roadblocks as it breaks into the mainstream. But, given the volume of research being done at institutions around the globe, the question of 3D-printing becoming a viable construction advancement for sizeable-scale structures seems to be additional of a question of “when” pretty “if.”


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