The construction and architecture industries are changing rapidly with the advent of 3d printing technology. When looking around at the general landscape and how homes and buildings are designed, we can sometimes take for granted the familiarity of how our world looks and feels. Large-scale 3d printing with materials such as concrete, metals, and carbon fiber, promises to change this, whether we are ready for it or not.
How 3d printers use concrete for construction
The concept of a small stationary 3d printer is slowly evolving into larger and more mobile machinery. This industry shift is concentrated on scalability where concrete is now being used for larger forms of construction including small houses, curb wall construction, storage containers, and bridges. This type of construction is often referred to in the field as large-scale additive manufacturing (LSAM).
When witnessing the extrusion process in the large-scale concrete printing machines, the printer will go back and forth, putting down one simple or complex layer on top of another, building on the structure’s height until its completion.
Benefits of 3d printing with concrete
In contrast to the usual methods of constructing with concrete, 3d printing offers a variety of benefits that will only increase with time and advancement in the field. Examples of these include:
- Decreased costs due to less on-site employees
- More efficient use of materials and less waste
- More advanced and intricate forms of construction
- Potential for faster completion time (if done correctly)
The future of 3d concrete printing machines
Concrete printing machines, sometime in the future, will re-design the landscape as we know it. How we think of homes, buildings, and architecture, in general, will all change. Where previously, architects were limited by construction casings and manufacturing processes, 3d printers will eventually only be limited by the amount of material available and human imagination. This means that new building designs will become a regular occurrence and without extra cost.
Remaining challenges for concrete 3d printing
The biggest challenges still facing the concrete 3d printing industry are mobility, speed, and fine printing technology.
3d concrete printing machines usually need some form of track to be placed on or use a swinging mechanical arm that dances back and forth with extreme precision, but these suffer from a lack of mobility. A swinging arm can only go so high before having to be lifted up on a platform and can only move so far in a linear direction before extending to the end of its reach. The speed in which these swinging arms move can also be improved upon as well as the arm’s ability to print finer details.
Although these are hurdles for the construction and architecture industries, they are challenges that are being addressed and thought about on a daily basis.
If you happen to be in the field of architecture, construction or contracting, it is an exciting time and is worthwhile to investigate 3d concrete printing and see what possibilities might be open to you as well.