Technology has developed in the last decade more so than it has in the last few centuries. The rate of development and transformation is simply remarkable and we are seeing some tremendous technologies come into existence and disrupt our lives like they have been a part of our routines for a long while. Needless to say, technology has become a necessary part of our lives and it would be impossible to progress without its development. That is exactly why millions are invested for this purpose every year and now in the latest technology: 3D Printed buildings!
3D printing is one of the most exciting progressive technologies to date. Its implementations are endless and there is no limit to its use and effectiveness. It has the potential to save us millions in the development of so many materials and structures. And this feasibility and convenience of 3D printing technology is what is encouraging the application of this remarkable piece of tech in a plethora of fields- including construction.
3D PRINTING IN CONSTRUCTION
The construction of a building is an elaborate process that requires the input of effort from a variety of workers possessing a variety of skill sets with a variety of tools and raw materials. Who would have thought ten years ago that you could print out an entire house? That’s right, 3D printing has made it very possible for us to simply print out buildings with adjusted raw materials- in fact, many houses and buildings have already been constructed using this technique.
HOW DOES CONSTRUCTION 3D PRINTING WORK?
So how exactly can a house be printed out using a 3D printer? Well, at the construction scale, a number of different methods are used to fabricate either the components of a construction or the whole construction itself. These include extrusion, bonding, and welding.
An example includes the method of FreeFAB Wax invented by James B Gardiner and Steven Janssen. This technique involves the use of engineered wax in order to create moulds for materials that need to be cast such as glass fibre and concrete. The wax used to create the mould can simply be crushed or melted off for reuse, deeming it much more environment friendly and comparatively less waste producing.
MIT researchers are taking this one step ahead and have built a system that can build an entire building from the bottom to the top. A vehicle consisting of a large robotic arm which has attached onto it a free moving precision arm with a nozzle that can construct objects of any size, shape, or material.
The reason why investment and the promotion of construction 3D printing could be well worthwhile is that it is a much better alternative to conventional construction methods. Components fabricated through 3D printing methods can be produced much faster and with much fewer resources than those required for conventional construction. With construction 3D printing, structures can be built for a much lesser price at a much higher speed and with high capability of customization. Different materials can be used to construct different parts and so certain properties of the building could be enhanced in certain areas for optimum construction.
3D PRINTING PROJECTS IN DUBAI
Dubai is making significant progress when it comes to becoming the technological economic hub of the world with competitive, leading edge technology driving the very infrastructure and workings of the city. Last year we saw the inauguration of the very first 3D printed office in Dubai which was opened for the public eye to see in the presence of the Vice President and ruler of the metropolis who was all for the technological movement and development in the world.
The “Office of the Future” is located on the Emirates Towers premises and is the office of the Dubai Future Foundation for the time being. It is stylish, futuristic, and complete, a remarkable insignia of how far 3D printing has come and how far it can go and the dimensions it can open for us. The construction saved more than 50% on labor, cut down on resource costs, and also employs a number of energy saving features making it an idealistic building from all perspectives. If one is for sure, it is that this venture in Dubai will open the gates to plenty more of its genre.
3D PRINTING PROJECTS IN CHINA
It seems that even before Dubai set out on embarking a three dimensional construction journey, China was on it already. In 2014, a company called WinSun claimed that it had printed 10 houses in 24 hours using a 3D printer that used a mixture of ground construction and industrial waste along with a hardening agent as its construction material. All of that at a staggeringly low cost of $5000. There was a 60 percent decrease in construction waste and a 70 percent decrease in production time, along with an 80 percent decrease in labor costs.
The following year, WinSun has finished a project that saw them fabricating the tallest 3D printed building in the world- a 1,100 square meter, five storey apartment building at the Suzhou Industrial Park. the individual parts were fabricated at the facility of the company and were assembled on the mentioned site using reinforcements and insulations to give it a final, completed look. The parts were made using a mixture of glass, steel, cement, hardening agents, and recycled waste from construction that was fed into a 6.6 x 10 meter tall 3D printer that worked on the additive layer mechanism, pumping out layer after layer of material to construct the building. WinSun has already made it clear that it plans on investing heftily in this area, aiming to build large infrastructure such as bridges and eventually entire cities using only 3D printing techniques in the near future.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
3D printing is completely changing the architectural designing and physical construction of buildings and houses and all for the better. It is giving a level of freedom and control over details that was not previously possible with conventional methods and is actually a more economical and efficient alternative. It has the potential to open up a whole new world of digital fabrication with unimaginable possibilities and creative and architectural control.
Conventional means of construction only allow the possibility of creating rectilinear structures. But with the advent of 3D printing, construction companies will finally be able to create curvilinear structures using a concrete composite mixture which is much more of a stronger structural component relative to its other forms. 3D printed houses and buildings are sturdier and possess the capability to withstand natural calamities such as earthquakes much better than conventionally built buildings that require extra protection and investment to be calamity resistant.
Considering what an economically viable and convenient method of construction 3D printing is, there is little doubt that many manufacturers and builders will be keen to take interest in and invest in this technology. Of course, it will require the labor to be more skilled in software manipulation and management, but everything can be done in its time. All in all, it is certainly something we all can be extremely excited about and look forward to. The future is here and it is quite creative.
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