10 ways 3D printing can impact architecture industry

10 ways 3D printing can impact architecture industry

A 3D-printed house by WATG Urban. Image courtesy of Inhabit

3D printing is poised to change the world. Many have hailed the technology as the coming of the third industrial revolution. Designers and architects can now 3D print items out of materials like masonry, concrete and even wood.

Below are 10 ways 3D printing can impact the future of architecture, according to Inhabitat.

1. More realistic scale models and concepts

Imagine looking at a scale model of a building, sliding open a hatch in the side and peering into the structure. More importantly, imagine a development and engineering crew that has access to a full-scale model of the structure they’re building. It offers more than just a resource and reference point — they can see the results of their work before anything is put in place. This could effectively be used to trial new possibilities and designs, or even test the durability of a structure before it’s made.

2. New building locations and opportunities

Much larger structures and objects are created using a variety of prefabs, bit by bit. A commercial or residential building, for example, would be printed room by room, for instance. Unlike traditional construction, this would allow teams to assemble and build in a variety of new locales, environments and even hard-to-reach locations. The building or structure could be designed and printed elsewhere and then hauled to its destination to be assembled.

3. New designs

Due to the nature of the technology and how items are created using printers, developers and engineers will need to come up with new and innovative ways to create modern structures. More importantly, the designs and modeling of said structures will change considerably. In the case of the Chinese company that 3D printed an entire apartment building, the structure was printed and developed at the rate of a floor per day.

4. Print more than walls

Imagine accessories and items like fixtures, internal walls, floorboards, ducts and more printed right into the building. This will do one of two things: The building itself will be highly efficient and integrated as all the components are attached and built right into the main framing, and it will speed up development because everything is already embedded within the prefabs.

5. Crowdsourced printing

With 3D printing, one feeds a digital blueprint or file of the desired item into hardware. This file can be designed or created by just about anyone. There are entire databases dedicated to 3D-printing files and blueprints. Now, consider something similar except on a much grander scale, and with residential and commercial property blueprints.

What if you could go to a service printer and have your entire home created in little to no time, cutting out nearly all the middlemen? This isn’t going to happen overnight, but it’s certainly a process that will be made more possible with this technology’s rise.

6. Dynamic players

The digital construction economy will develop on its own, with hardly any insight from current professionals. That means workers in the construction, engineering and design industries will need to redefine their roles and find new uses for their skills.

We can expect construction to evolve, especially once organizations and teams realize how efficient and cost-effective 3D printing can be. New business opportunities will arise and need to be assessed, and what we know of the average contractor could change radically over time.

7. Commercial development

Dubai recently announced the completion of the world’s first 3D-printed office building. It is a full-scale, commercial office building with people actually working and operating within. The printer used to create the structure was 20 feet high, 120 feet long and 40 feet wide. Using a unique cement mixture, the printed created an entire building that is now used daily. It took 17 days to build and assemble — a near record timing for a structure of its size.

The takeaway is that 3D printing technologies will be viable across nearly every facet of the construction industry, including commercial and residential.

8. More work

The faster rates at which a structure can be printed and assembled means more work over time. As more organizations and parties realize the benefits of printed structures, we’ll see the popularity grow, which will also mean an increase of opportunities for companies at the forefront of this movement.

It’s likely we’ll see 3D printing construction become mainstream, with a seemingly endless list of opportunities for companies that adopt the technology. It is estimated the 3D printing or additive manufacturing market will fetch up to $26.5 billion by 2021. That’s a huge leap from $8.8 million in 2017.

9. Design values will change

With 3D-printing designs and blueprints, there’s still the opportunity for designers and architects to create exclusive models for a company, but they can also create universal or publicly accessible designs that can be used by just about anyone. This opens up new opportunities for revenue in terms of selling designs, but it also may allow new avenues of experimentation.

10. Automated construction

With the convergence of 3D printing, modern AI, analytics and robotics, it’s increasingly likely that construction and development will be automated and computerized. Construction teams would enjoy greater efficiency and precision, not to mention higher safety ratings. Projects could be completed sooner and with less resources wasted or deployed.

Mockup miniatures will be available through BIM or building information modeling, with the final product built entirely from the ground up using advanced machinery and print an entire building in just under 14 hours.


Topics: Architectural Firms, Building Owners and Managers, Construction Firms, Energy Saving Products, Engineering Firms, Environmental Firms, Great Commercial Buildings, Multifamily / Multiunit Residential, Office Buildings, Sustainable Communities, Technology, Urban Planning and Design

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