3D Printing- A move toward faster construction

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3D Printing

3D printing (sometimes referred to as Additive Manufacturing (AM)) is the computer-controlled sequential layering of materials to create three-dimensional shapes. It is particularly useful for prototyping and for the manufacture of geometrically complex components. It was first developed in the 1980s, but at that time it was a difficult and expensive operation and so had few applications. Depending on the technique adopted, printing can produce multiple components simultaneously, can use multiple materials and can use multiple colours. Accuracy can be increased by a high-resolution subtractive process that removes material from an oversized printed item. Some techniques include the use of dissolvable materials that support overhanging features during fabrication. Materials such as metal can be expensive to print, and in this case it may be more cost-effective to print a mould, and then to use that to create the item.

Applications of 3d construction

In the construction industry, 3D printing can be used to create construction components or to ‘print’ entire buildings. Construction is well-suited to 3D printing as much of the information necessary to create an item will exist as a result of the design process, and the industry is already experienced in computer aided manufacturing. The recent emergence of building information modelling (BIM) in particular may facilitate greater use of 3D printing. Construction 3D printing may allow faster and more accurate construction of complex or bespoke items as well as lowering labour costs and producing less waste. It might also enable construction to be undertaken in harsh or dangerous environments not suitable for a human workforce such as in space.

A number of different approaches have been demonstrated to date, which include on-site and off-site fabrication of buildings and construction components, using industrial robots, gantry systems and tethered autonomous vehicles. Demonstrations of construction 3D printing technologies to date have included fabrication of housing, construction components (cladding and structural panels and columns), bridges and civil infrastructure, artificial reefs, follies, and sculptures. The technology has seen a significant increase in popularity in recent years with many new companies, including some backed by prominent names from the construction industry and academia. This led to several important milestones, such as the first 3D printed building, the first 3D printed bridge, the first 3D printed part in a public building, the first living 3D printed building in Europe and CIS[citation needed], and the first 3D printed building in Europe fully approved by the authorities (COBOD International), among many others.

In the construction industry, 3D printing can be used to create construction components or to ‘print’ entire buildings. Construction is well-suited to 3D printing as much of the information necessary to create an item will exist as a result of the design process, and the industry is already experienced in computer aided manufacturing. The recent emergence of building information modelling (BIM) in particular may facilitate greater use of 3D printing. Construction 3D printing may allow faster and more accurate construction of complex or bespoke items as well as lowering labour costs and producing less waste. It might also enable construction to be undertaken in harsh or dangerous environments not suitable for a human workforce such as in space.

In practice, concrete is squeezed out of a nozzle attached to a computer-programmed robotic arm, either stationary or travelling along rails, in successive strips, layer upon layer, to produce the desired building structure, such as an exterior or interior wall, or component, like an archway or void. Advocates claim the technique offers construction that is faster, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than traditional building methods. They point to accelerated delivery of homes, greater flexibility in design, reduced cost of construction, more efficient use of materials and higher levels of sustainability by reducing waste typical of construction, and even less noise pollution.

Specifically, industry experts identify seamless production of objects from a numerical design and access to a wide range of geometries for the final object, most impossible or very expensive to realise with traditional processing techniques. The commercial appeal to big builders seems irresistible.

House 3D printers use extrusion technology. Some construction 3D printers look like super-sized desktop FFF/FDM 3D printers (gantry style), whereas others consist of a rotating mechanical arm.In both cases, paste-type components such as concrete are used as filament. The material is pushed out of a special nozzle to form layers. To put it (very) simply, paste extrusion is similar using a piping bag to spread frosting on a cake.

The printer creates the foundations and walls of the house or building, layer by layer. The ground is literally the printer’s build plate. Some concrete 3D printers, however, are used to 3D print brick molds. When molded, the bricks are then piled atop each other manually (or with a robotic arm).

Advantages of 3d printing in construction

One of the biggest benefits that 3D printers have presented to construction workers is a reduction in injuries in the field. Considering that building with concrete is difficult-even dangerous-this is a welcome improvement. Not only do workers have an easier time doing their job, but employers have less worker’s compensation paperwork to wade through due to injuries on the job.

Another improvement is a considerable reduction of material waste. 3D printers use the exact amount of concrete needed for the wall, floor, or whatever it is that you want to build. Builders and GCs don’t have to order in bulk because they’ll know exactly how much material they need. Not only is this a more sustainable, environmentally friendly way to build, but it also results in reduced costs for the contractor.

3D printers truly set themselves apart from traditional construction methods. Where a project may sometimes take weeks–or months-to complete, 3D printers can often finish a project in a matter of hours or days. An entire house was once constructed in 24 hours! This allows contractors to move onto other projects sooner…and with more orders filled, more money is brought in for the contractor.

Using a 3D printer also allows construction companies to work in markets that might have otherwise been inaccessible to them before. And for new construction companies, having a 3D printer on hand could set them apart from companies that have been around for a few decades and are resistant to change.

Overall, the use of 3D printers costs less than traditional construction techniques and processes. With the reduction of injuries, time, and material cost, companies will see a dramatic increase in their profits. And while some workers will probably have to be let go, others will remain, since someone still needs to be able to put all of the pieces together. By learning the technology, workers have a chance to maintain their job security as well. They’ll earn more, as will the company as a whole.

3D printers are renowned for their ability to create seemingly odd and atypical design structures. Now construction companies can utilize that to offer their clients unique buildings designed entirely for them. This can open up their portfolio to certain individuals who may not want the standard rectangular options. Essentially, being able to create unique architectural designs for a client makes the construction company more desirable to certain clients.

While testing concrete during the early stages of construction will continue to be necessary, 3D printers have been found to contribute to the durability of the structural elements. This is due in part to how the materials are made and the manner in which they are assembled. More durable buildings mean fewer repairs need to be made, so construction companies can focus their efforts elsewhere to drive profit. For clients, too, their preferences certainly rest with a building that will last longer.

Innovative technologies for 3d construction

Robotic Arm Extruders – These machines are huge (32m long, 10m wide and 6.6m tall). This enables them to 3D print full structures and assemble them on the spot. This is done through mixing concrete and glass fibres on-site and then printing. This feat made builders and construction workers aware of additive manufacturing.

Printing process using his ‘D-Shape’ 3D printer – This machine relies on the binding of powder which makes it possible to solidify a layer of material with a binder. Layers of sand are deposited according to the desired thickness before a print head pours droplets (the binder) to harden the sand. This 4 x 4 metre machine can create large structures of up to 6 cubic metres in size.

Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing – The machine can be likened to a sort of giant soldering iron. The team commented that “we combined an industrial robot with a welding machine to turn it into a 3D printer that works with our own software.

3D Printed Prefab Home With Off-the-grid Capabilities – Reno, Nevada-based tech startup Haus. He is looking to change the face of sustainable housing with their new construction project. The houses they offer combine autonomous and off-the-grid capabilities with a build time of mere weeks. They also add in the ability for the house to act autonomously in catering to the customer’s wants with a Smart HomeOS system.

These are just a few examples. New companies are developing 3D printers, coming up with innovative solutions to change the construction industry. There are already families moving into 3D printed houses, and soon we will be able to deliver homes to rural parts of our planet. This is a truly revolutionary time for the construction industry.

Conclusion

With 3D printing, construction professionals and their customers can communicate more clearly and efficiently. Even a customer with no architectural background can better express their needs and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Much of a client’s expectations come from an idea, and 3D printing makes it simple to materialize that idea beyond the dated method of pencil and paper.Dubai has just unveiled a major milestone in construction printing technologies. The region’s new building in Warsan now holds the Guinness record for largest on-site 3D printed construction. The two-storey building also meets all the stringent building standards and has undergone a year of testing.

The project was in development with the help of Apis Cor and the University of Nantes, who also researched the technology and special materials. The building was 3D printed from mineral-infused fluids that solidify into concrete, forming the structure on-site without any extra assembly works. Standing at 9.5 metres tall with a total area of 640 square metres, the construction process used only local components.

Despite the incredible potential, many construction professionals remain wary of the affect 3D printing could have on their business. Increased automation and mechanization have been detrimental to fidgety labor markets in the past. 3D printing presents promising opportunities for the construction industry to become both greener and more cost-effective, often by considerable margins. As 3D printing research continues to develop, it will be exciting to see the benefits the technology will have on the many facets of the construction industry.

References – Raconteur.net, aniwaa.com, giatecscientific.com, thebalancesmb.com, 3dnatives.com, 3dprinting.com, Uk construction online, 3dadept.com, all3dp.com, technologycards.net, 3dprintingindustry.com, 3dprint.com, cead-am.com, innobyg.dk, amfg.ai, dwell.com