3D printing technology is making inroads in the construction industry and turning it more productive, cost-effective and efficient. 3D printing is now used for building complex structures of buildings, bridges, roads, etc.
Coupled with Business Information Modelling (BIM), 3D printer can be very effective which can turn complex building structures into reality with accuracy and efficiency. The technology can further increase the trend for prefabrication and modular construction which will speed up the whole construction process. Other than costs and time efficiency, 3D printing technology is also environmentally friendly as recyclable waste products can be utilised for developing different structures.
Commodity Inside assess that contour crafting is one of the key printing technology currently used in the construction industry and can reduce the building and construction costs by 1/6th compared to conventional construction methods. Currently, cement and concrete are the main materials used by the technology. We expect that other materials such as polymers, metals, recycled polymers, composites etc will also be used in the future. Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) is also an emerging technology help to develop large buildings.
Currently, massive 3D printers build the houses layer by layer, producing an efficient result. Though these houses are of very basic and more straightforward structure, but with the innovation and further improvement, the technology will improve.
A number of projects are completed through 3D printers while a flood of projects using the technology is underway. In 2015, Winsun, a Chinese company built ten houses in a single day which are 500 feet long, 33 feet wide and 20 feet high through the 3D printer at the cost of just $5,000, which was significantly economical than the conventional way of building. In 2016, a 3D printed office was also constructed in Dubai. Similarly, a California based company also built a standard two-storey house within just one day at the cost of $10,000, with an estimated saving of 70% if the house was made through a conventional way.
The technology is not just depending on concrete structures, but it can also develop steel building structures. In Amsterdam, a 12.5 meter long and 6.3-meter wide stainless steel bridge of a complex design is being built by using 3D printer technology.
Commodity Inside understands that over the coming years, the 3D printing technology will be more widely applied in the construction industry combined with robots and BIM modelling. We anticipate that the use of construction 3D printing will initially start picking up in Europe, North America, China, Japan and some parts of Middle East including Saudi Arabia and UAE.
This article is based on our recently publish report “Global Construction Market: Analysis of Major Emerging Trends and Developments in the Next Decade”.
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