The Basics of 3D Printing and the Possible Effects on Construction

3d Printing in the Construction Industry

 

Image courtesy: Contour Crafting website.

You weren’t around for the creation of paper or the invention of the wheel.   You also missed the birth of other life-altering creations, things like:

  • The compass
  • The internal combustion engine
  • Penicillin

All these inventions were serious game changers, and you currently reap the benefits of having them in your everyday life. But your time has finally come. Now, you can brag that you were around when something revolutionary graced the planet. You were here when the human brain dreamed up—and finally brought to fruition—something so extremely radical, it reeked of science fiction and maybe even a bit of magic.

You Were Here when the 3D Printer was Born.

Granted, the 3D printer has been living among us for quite awhile, but it’s just now creeping its way out of engineering labs and into the mainstream. So now that it’s officially here, what exactly is 3D printing and how is it going to affect the world of construction?

Answering the first part of that question isn’t so simple. You can go many places to learn a lot of technical information about it and be mind blown. The science can be difficult to absorb. So in layman’s terms, 3D printing is a way of making three dimensional, solid objects from digital files.

According to Atlantic Council’s Strategic Foresight Report, “think of an inkjet printer that goes back over and over the page, adding layers of material on top of each other until the original works are 3D objects.”

So now the second part of the question, how will this magical printer affect construction?   Well, that answer isn’t so simple either.

There are many skeptics that believe it’s just another invention, one that will be important, but not earth shattering. They believe 3D printers will have their place in the world, but they won’t take over.

Well, China unveiled some 3D printed homes this year, along with other large-scale structures. And yes, people all around the world are starting to talk about these printers’ capabilities with hushed words and excited tones, but for builders, it is yet to be seen how it will meld with the construction industry.

According to Atlantic Council’s report, “3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a revolutionary emerging technology that could up-end the last two centuries of approaches to design and manufacturing with profound geopolitical, economic, social, demographic, environmental, and security implications.”

In other words, it’s a crazy invention that might really shake things up—maybe for the better, maybe for the worse, possibly both—depending how you look at it. Or it might not do anything at all. The point is to remain calm. This wave of the future is still in the infant stages and will most likely benefit the construction world, uplifting its workers and the industry as a whole.

According to Atlantic Council’s report and VIATechnik, this is how 3D printing could positively affect you:

Getting Your Parts

  • Spare parts could be printed from any location.
  • Any manufacturing company could 3D print a large variety of products — making alterations without additional cost.
  • Production and distribution of these items could happen at more convenient locations on tighter deadlines.

Design and Construction

  • Entire buildings can be 3D printed into existence using a combination of concrete and composite.
  • Usual design limitations fly out the window. VIATechnik says, “The ability to use curvilinear forms, rather than being cost and process limited to rectilinear forms, opens a whole new realm of design.”

In all, we won’t know how this strange and fascinating technology is going to shape our lives until 3D printing is fully embraced worldwide.

So wait, learn, and prepare when needed. Until then, embrace the now.

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Star Building Systems

Founded in 1927, Star Building Systems has seen and done it all, from supplying tool sheds for oil derrick drilling sites in the early oil boom days to hangar buildings during World War II. We set the industry standard for innovation and technology. Most importantly, we have the best builders in the business.

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