Construction companies have taken 3D printing technology to the next level and are using it to construct houses, offices, bridges and more. How will this new way of building help cities and their residents?
Image: 3D printed office building in Dubai (source).
3D printing of a building looks similar to 3D printing of smaller objects: a robots applies layer after layer of material until the whole structure is completed. For buildings, robots use special mixtures of concrete, steel or other materials, suitable for 3D printing. Some companies even use recycled materials, putting some of the waste to good use. This concept could provide cities with a new way to dispose of their waste while even getting paid to do it.
3D printing technology can also help maintain and reinforce existing infrastructure at a lower cost than traditional techniques. Traditionally, a cast had to be constructed and used to make each element that was needed. But 3D printing technique enables elements to be customized and build on the fly.
Building with 3D printing requires much less time than traditional building techniques. For example, Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis from University of Southern California, developed a revolutionary robot that can 3D print an entire 2,500-square-foot home in just 24 hours (as shown on the image bellow). The office in Dubai took only 17 days to print and the process cost about $140,000. This examples show that this way of building can save cities a lot of money while providing residents with housing in record time.
Image: Visualization of 3D printing of a two-storey house (source).
The world’s first 3D printed apartment building was built in China in 2015. Dubai followed in 2016 with the world’s first printed office. This year, the Dutch company MX3D is making the first 3D printed steel bridge in the world. The bridge, spanning 40 feet, will be installed next year in Amsterdam. Last year, the same start-up, MX3D, unveiled a 3D printed, 26-foot concrete bridge in the Dutch city of Gemert.
While this way of building is quite new, it has a lot of potential. Companies like WinSun create new techniques and materials to be used in 3D printing. This will make building of complicated structures easier, offering designers more freedom to unleash their creativity and make cities better and more beautiful.
Headline image source: smartcitiesdive