3D Printing in the Construction Industry

3d printing

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It may come as a surprise to some but 3D printing is not new technology. 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, was first created in the 1980s in Japan by Hideo Kodama. Kodama is responsible for creating the layer-by-layer approach to manufacturing. Despite his inability to file a patent for this technology, he along with a trio of French researchers, are credited for finding this technology.

The patent for this technology did not come until 1986 by an American furniture Charles Hull. He submitted the patent application for the technology, and following in 1988 he founded the 3D Systems Corporation where he made the first commercial 3D printer.

Why does it exist?

3D printing is the process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file. This process allows you to produce complex shapes using less material than traditional methods. SLA was the first 3D technology created. SLA is a high-powered laser that turns a liquid resin into a solid material. This is completed from the ground up in a layer-by-layer fashion.

How is 3D Printing used today?

Today, the 3D printing construction market is rapidly growing. Statista shares that the industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17 percent between 2020 and 2023. This leaves a lot of room for growth and opportunities for those in the industry. The 3D market like many others includes an array of pros and cons when it comes to how it will be used.

Benefits of this technology in the construction industry include the following:

  • Increase Speed – 3D printing allows for the building of homes or buildings in a matter of days as opposed to conventional construction which can take months or even years. According to Marco Vonk, Marketing Manager at Saint-Gobain Weber Beamix, “You save about 60% of the time on the Jobsite and 80% in labor.”
  • Design Freedom – 3D printing allows architects to create extremely difficult shapes that they otherwise may not have been able to create.
  • Waste Reduction – Because 3D printing is an additive technology, it only uses the amount of material needed for each job.

The downside includes:

  • Labor Shortage – This is a prime example of technology replacing jobs of workers to save time and money.
  • Regulations – Digital Builder shares how there’s much uncertainty in this aspect of 3D printing in construction. Until laws and regulations are clearly defined, it’s unlikely that 3D printing will make too much of a mark in the construction sector.

The unknown of 3D printing stops it from being such a mainstream way of life in the construction realm. As large companies such as BAM or Saint – Gobain continue to use this technology other companies will want to stay here as well. As the construction industry is one of the largest in the world, it is exciting to see new technology constantly created to help innovate and change the industry.