The use of 3D technologies in construction can significantly facilitate this technique, and make it way faster and better than ever before.
Not surprisingly, in this area, many companies enthusiastically take the initiative, and thus they actively apply new technologies.
The use of 3D printers in construction makes it possible to implement the most complex structures in terms of their geometry and to embody interesting architectural new designs. In particular, build loop structures, and round houses, and also build futuristic objects or real castles.
If it’s possible to establish an inexpensive production of such structures, then, probably, it will be used to build objects on the Moon and even on other planets out there. And this means that this direction will be actively developed because this is a giant step into the future.
But the question is how does 3D printing work in construction. To know its work process, let’s dig deeper and know all about 3d printing in the construction field.
What Is 3D Printing In Construction?
3D printing in the field of construction utilizes both a 3D printer which comes with a robotic “crane-arm” to build structures on the site and also the invention of certain features by printers at the manufactory, which is already constructed into a format on site.
The idea of 3D printing isn’t new: initially, it appeared during the 80s. However, it has just been in the previous decade that this method has been developed enough (and the expense has been significantly decreased) that it has turned into a genuine mainstream.
The 3D printer isn’t much distinct from a standard inkjet office printer. The software implies the printer about the final product’s dimensions.
And then the 3D printer begins to release material to the place as per the program. 3D printers sometimes use cement, plastics, liquid metals, and also variations of distinct materials that, as soon as cooled & dried, form a layout.
In a 3D printer for construction, the BIM or CAD programs instruct the machine on what to do, and what to print, and also the machine begins layering the material as per the planned design.
How Do 3D Printers In Construction Work?
3D printing concept – the printer extrudes a certain liquid mixture layer by layer, level by level, creating a structure based on a three-dimensional model.
The prepared mix of concrete, filler, plasticizer, and other components is loaded into the hopper of the device and fed to the print head.
The mixture is applied to the surface of the site or the previously printed layers. This is how most 3D printers’ work gets completed.
What 3D Printing Construction Materials Are Used?
BUILDING ON-DEMAND IN COPENHAGEN (or COBOD)
• Used Materials: Concrete mixture including sand, cement, and also other additives.
• Used Materials: Natural material mixture including 40% straw diced rice, 25% soil, 10% hydraulic lime, and 25% rice husk.
TVASTA: ROOM MODULE
• Used Materials: Concrete mixture depending on regular Portland cement, however, with a lower ratio of water-cement and including sand, cement, and also other additives.
APIS COR: RESIDENTIAL HOME
• Used Materials: Concrete mixture made using sand, cement, geopolymer, and also other additives.
WINSUN: WAVE BUILDING
• Used Materials: Concrete mixture made using sand, cement, fiber, and also other additives.
How Are 3D Printers Used On The Construction Site?
Construction 3D printers, work using standard layer-by-layer material application technology.
For this purpose, a special composite material is used, which is akin to M250 concrete. To achieve strength, it’s necessary to reinforce the walls additionally.
To do this, fiber can be included in the solution, and in case the structure is huge, then fiberglass reinforcement is placed on the walls.
In general, 2 people are sufficient to build a 3D printed house using a 3D printer. One will control the presence of the solution, and the other will lay the reinforcement.
The use of additive technologies in the world has found active application in the construction industry. There are different types of construction 3D printers.
Method of erecting the walls of the building. Depending on the design, construction 3D printers are:
• portal structure;
• 2- and 4-support design;
• based on a manipulator’s arm;
• circular design.
A distinctive feature of various building 3D printers is their ability to print small architectural forms or parts of structures with their subsequent assembly on the site or print the entire building at the site of the construction of the house.
How Can 3D Printed Designs Be Useful for The Construction Industry?
Proponents of 3D printing houses and commercial offices believe that there are several advantages to this construction process:
Zero Waste Constructions
Almost 1/3 of the waste comes from the construction industry. As per some research, the construction industry worldwide will produce 2.2 billion tons of construction waste by 2025.
And although most of the waste is associated with the destruction of buildings, the construction sites produce ample waste.
On the other hand, 3D printing can decrease waste to almost zero (0). The 3D printer utilizes a great amount of material that’s required to print a structure – no less, no more. This can be a huge saving.
Reduced Energy Consumption
3D printing in construction stimulates the use of locally available materials and natural components.
This practice can reduce energy costs in transportation, construction, and manufacturing, as most local materials require less energy to process or install.
If traditional materials with toxic chemical impurities are replaced with natural ones, then the toxicity of the entire construction can be reduced.
In addition, local materials are often better suited to local climates and can reduce the heating or cooling load of a building, which also reduces construction costs.
Saving Time & Money
As with AI in construction, the 3D printer can run 24×7. Thus, construction plans can be completed much quicker, and many low-skilled labor expenses can be avoided.
What is more, 3D printing eliminates the requirement for temporary structures, like scaffolding and formwork, that are commonly utilized in conventional construction.
Analyses of 3D printed houses made of concrete have shown a considerable drop in formwork needs– this decreases expenses by 35% to 60%.
Can Recognize Unique Design Shapes Of The Building
Among the most appealing characteristics of 3D printers is their ability to create unique and complicated designs, consisting of a single, unusual one.
Since the 3D printer’s job is to layer material, it can be easily programmed into simply any unique shape that would be way harder to create with conventional techniques.
Minimize Human Error & Improve Safety
The statistics in 2020 by the American agency BLS of wounds at the workplace show that construction is among the highest traumatic places and also has an increased incidence of conditions.
Every day, around 5000+ workers die on the site of construction. But with the beginning of 3D printing, it has reduced as it makes the construction job more automated and programmable.
Robotic construction needs accurate, standardized, and also complete information on digital building, making this procedure more efficient and accurate, with minimal redo because of human mistakes or any data inconsistencies.
The typical problems with components and materials that ought to be stored someplace, protected from deterioration- are balanced out, and installation issues and also work in progress because of damage – 3D components are made as you build, they don’t need to be transferred, and stored.
Development of New Markets
The use of a 3D printer also allows construction companies to enter new market sectors that were previously inaccessible to them. And for start-up companies, having a 3D printer will be a competitive advantage.
What is more, 3D printing is a brilliant way to improve or elevate the reputation of a construction company’s brand among those who believe that concrete production affects the planet’s atmosphere.
3D Printing Process For Entire Buildings
The process of 3D printing a building is as follows.
• First, the construction site is prepared
• Then, using a special program, the extruder servo drive extrudes the building mixture (sand concrete, gypsum-based mixture, fiber fibers, geopolymers) with special additives.
• 3D printing is done in horizontal layers – each layer on top of the previous one.
• The applied layer seals the bottom, increasing its ability to withstand the weight of the structure.
• In the places of window and door openings, the extruder makes gaps for their formation.
• Additionally, the structure of the house under construction is strengthened with reinforcement.
Printing Technology Using Concrete Material
Let’s begin with technology. The focus of the 3D construction printers’ operation is to extrude a certain mix, layer by layer, as per a given 3D computer model.
It’s a pre-prepared mix, including cement for constructing affordable housing, plasticizer, filler, and also other additive manufacturing, which is loaded into the device’s hopper, and from there it’s fed to the head of the printer.
The mix is released to the pad surface or formerly printed layers. Maximum construction 3D printers work this way. Among them, there’re 3 types of machines:
Delta devices aren’t restricted to a 3D model however, can make more complicated shapes. The head of the print is balanced on levers connected to vertical rails.
Portal 3D Printers
This type of device includes a frame, 3 portals, and also a print head. This type of printer can print a structure as a complete or in small parts.
Robotic Arms Printers
Ultimately, the robotic printer is an industrial robot or industrial arm-type robot branch technology prepared with extruders as well as controlled by one computer to operate in the field of construction.
There’re other techniques for creating 3D printing. For instance, D-Shape equipment printings by layering powder materials and then binding them with an adhesive solution. Building countries around the universe are using additive technology for building 3d printed houses and civil engineering.
Advantages of Building 3D Printing Automated Construction Sector
These are the advantages of utilizing a construction 3D printer:
High Speed of Construction
A high ratio of practical use of working time, work day & night. Thus, accelerated time of construction; maximum mechanization of the production procedure, and also depreciation of the “human aspect”.
Thus: deduction of errors, as well as construction in areas that are hard to access and also inaccessible to humans.
In conventional techniques of construction tasks that use cutting and mold, customization was a labor-intensive and time-consuming procedure.
Additionally, there wasn’t any durability warranty for such constructions that are made on a practical basis. However, 3D printing makes sure you get improved structural integrity. This also lets the alteration of particular parts to fit specific needs.
Reduced Health & Safety Risks
The industry of construction is normally regarded as a risky industry. Particularly the concrete assignment can be dangerous to health.
Utilizing a 3D printer for such jobs could reduce the chances of fatalities and injuries. That is among the prime causes to try this method in the construction field.
The 3D printing method lets designers and architects build complicated designs that otherwise are expensive and labor-intensive. With 3D printing using concrete, one can readily achieve any form with ease. This lets the designers be more innovative in the construction area.
Noiseless Construction Process
Conventional house construction is linked with more noise from equipment and different equipment coming to the site of construction. 3D printing constructions are devoid of such noises.
Using 3D printing, building companies can get high accuracy in making concrete structures. To 3D print, rather than pouring concrete into conventional molds, 3D concrete printing (3DCP) pours material mixtures in layers with a computerized procedure. This improves the precision and quality of the buildings.
Disadvantages of Building 3D Printing In the Construction Sector
In addition to the obvious advantages of 3D printing of buildings, there’re also some disadvantages. Here are the disadvantages of 3D printing in construction.
• Building wall printing needs mixtures with high curing rates and settings. For non-critical elements, like tiny landscaping molds, affordable mixes can be utilized;
• Air holes may form, decreasing the structure strength. This’s because of the impossibility of needed vibration treatments;
• The reinforcement method hasn’t been completely developed. Different technical solutions are offered that need time verification;
• Work can just be carried out during dry weather at certain temperatures because of the working powers of the mixture. The printer can work at low temperatures around -350 degrees Celsius;
• You can just print walls. There’re no printers for high-quality 3D printing of the standard roof construction. Even for non-standard small houses, roofs are printed in the shape of horizontal slabs, or houses are printed in the upper part in the form of a dome, which doesn’t need a conventional ceiling slab;
• The high expense of a construction 3D printer.
• While it’s possible to print small buildings of 2 to 3 floors. The sizes of the printing house rely on the technical powers of the printer. Therefore, the scope of 3D printing of a structure is currently restricted to low-rise housing structures. To print multi-story buildings, you’ll need a printer that’s taller than the building itself. You can imagine what size it should be which is quite impossible.
3D Printers For Construction 3D Printing?
Here are a few 3D printers for construction 3D printing. Let’s have a look…
Contour Crafting Machine
In 2009, citizens of the start-up incubator “Singularity University” (founded in 2008 in NASA Research Park, CA), under the supervision of Behrokh Khoshnevis, started an assignment for the development & commercial application of contour building tech – Contour Crafting.
This was considered the foremost building using 3D printing technology and became the most expected one. It is the same technology in which the mixture of cement is applied using an extruder, equal to plastic in Fused Deposition Modeling printing.
Founded by Berok Khoshnevis, the company of the same name is developing this 3D printing method and partnering with NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration).
The developer recommends using this printing technique to rebuild disaster-stricken cities and also create structures on another planet. The company utilizes a computer-controlled gantry system crane along with an extruder attached to it to 3D print structures.
The Contour Crafting procedure uses a fast-setting material that is applied in layers by a gantry system crane. Technical elements like fittings and utilities can be included as layers are built using a robotic arm.
The Russian company AMT is a member of the AMT-SPETSAVIA group of companies. The activity area is the growth and presentation of construction utilizing 3D printers as well as the sale & maintenance of tools in foreign markets.
The company’s range includes seven different sizes of 3D printers. This is the biggest building in Yaroslavl Europe, as well as the CIS, was created utilizing AMT printers. The total area of this building is 298 sq. m.
The Russian company Apis Cor is the creator of a remarkable mobile construction 3D printer that prints an entire house on the site of construction.
The overall sizes of the 3D printer in the folded state are 4*1.6*1.5 meters. and the weight is 2 tons. The area of print is 131 sq. m. To print structures and buildings of large dimensions, many synchronized 3D printing technologies can be utilized.
The Shanghai firm WinSun became well-known all over the globe by erecting 10 3D printed structures in just 1 day In 2014. Everything was modest: little “boxes” were properly printed, one-by-one block initially, and then completed at the site of construction, without fittings & communications, however, with glazing.
The firm utilizes a printer based on Fused Deposition Modeling technology and a one-step procedure with cement, fiberglass, and sand. These materials supply sufficient strength to the walls. WINSUN 3D printer is a portal structure with sizes of 36 x 12 x 6 meters.
It’s a firm from the Netherlands that utilizes 3D printing in the construction of turnkey houses. This machine produces printing material and two construction 3D printers.
Such big industrial machines require 2 operators but can print large structures very speedily. For instance, in 2017 in Dubai, the firm printed a 168 sq. m. laboratory in only 3 weeks.
The D-Shape is among the more unique 3D printing options in construction. The device doesn’t use a 3-axis positioning extruder but depends on a collection of 300 nozzles set on a moving platform.
The size of the working platform of the printer, in the present version – is 6×6 meters. D-Shape technology corresponds to inkjet printing, a set of nozzles is utilized to apply a binding agent to layers of sand.
The Nantes University, France, is operating with the Nantes Digital Sciences Laboratory (aka LS2N) on a project to print houses on a 3D printer named Yhnova.
The project will use the Batiprint 3D method created by the university – 3D printed “from the inside”. It’s printed layer-by-layer applying a material equivalent to mounting foam, after which it hardens, and it’s poured with concrete.
This project from Yhnova is a 5-room social housing project with curved walls & rounded corners. This robotic arm can print buildings up to 7 m. high, the size of the designed house is 95 sq. m.
Italian manufacturer WASP has created the largest construction 3D printer to date. This delta boat is 12 m. high and 7 m. wide, has adjustable arms up to 6 m. long.
The application of the BigDelta printer aims to solve the housing crisis by creating cheaper homes, which is especially true for developing countries.
The BigDelta project is a 3D printing in construction using natural materials. Pressed straw and earth are used as “consumables”.
Challenges Of 3d Printing In Construction
Here are a few challenges that you should expect to face when you decide to 3D print a house. Here are the challenges…
Cost Of The Entire Buildings’ Construction
Cost is among the premium barriers that are obstructing the general usage of 3D printing in the field of construction.
The high expense of renting or buying these tools and getting a large 3D printer to the worksite is a hurdle. Additionally, the expense of materials & maintenance is a hurdle that not several constructors are keen to bear.
Constructing buildings layer-by-layer as well as with lattice designs and additive welding inside permits for a massive expense deduction. Not just that, but additive processes are even able to use recycled materials. This aspect even benefits the atmosphere.
Whereas the 3D printing procedure does reduce the possibility of human errors. It can even end up making expensive and quick mistakes in case the projects aren’t handled with expertise and intense care.
One more major challenge is the absence of skilled workers in the industry of construction. To use the 3D printer, you need to be acquainted with designing computer models, operating the tools, and also services when required. 3D printing needs a distinct skill set that will make it both difficult to find and costly.
Among the biggest issues in the takeoff of the latest technology is the hesitancy in approval. Would you agree to reside in a house-made using 3D printing technology?
As soon as it comes to building, people prefer adhering to conventional methods due to a common misinterpretation that technology makes building weaker and cheaper.
Distribution of Structural 3D Printing
3D printing for structural reinforcement, small-scale features, and structural steel can revolutionize design, space exploration, and construction.
Additionally, the European Space Agency (Aka ESA) believes that utilizing 3D printed metals to create high-quality complex shapes can significantly reduce their cost, and they will become very common.
ESA, together with the European Commission, has developed a project to improve the printing of metal components that can be used in space.
In total, 28 European partners have united for the joint project AMAZE (Additive Manufacturing Aiming For Zero Waste And Efficient Production for High-Tech Metal Products).
Almost everything can be designed on a computer, so AMAZE plans to install a 3D printer on board the spacecraft, and as soon as an astronaut needs any part, a tool, he can simply print it.
3D Printing In Civil Engineering
3D printing in civil engineering has been gaining popularity over the past decade, as has the aerospace and biomedical industries.
This revolutionary manufacturing technique is based on its unique ability to create any geometric shape without any formal restrictions, minimizing waste but increasing productivity and results.
The construction industry’s push towards automation has recently reached important milestones, including the creation of the first structures using robotic “arms” and 3D printing technology.
The use of 3D printing in the creation of structural elements from polymer materials, concrete, and metals is becoming more common.
These civil engineering technicians can create freeform and innovative architectural designs through the use of CAD-integrated software.
However, despite significant research in the aerospace and bioengineering industries to evaluate and analyze this mechanism, there is still a lack of understanding of its use, and the impact of 3D printed materials in civil structures, both in terms of material properties and structural response.
5 Innovative Examples of 3D Printing
To date, only a few 3D printing projects have been implemented in the construction industry. Here are five of the most impressive and promising projects:
Dubai Municipality Office Building, UAE
In December 2019, Apis Cor, the 3D printing company informed the fulfillment of the biggest 3D printed private building in the world.
The office block, constructed in the UAE, is only 9.5 m. high as well as has an extent of 640 sq. m. The Apis Cor 3D printers moved around the site of the construction using a crane as well as erected various parts of the system.
Office of the Future, UAE
The Office of the Future is one more amazing 3D-printed structure in the UAE. It’s a fairly large, unique building that presently houses the provisional headquarters of the Future Foundation of Dubai.
For this structure, the elements weren’t created on-site, as well as they were properly printed in 17 days only, while the structure itself was completed in 48 hours.
Houses Created By A 3D Printer From WinSun, China
Chinese company WinSun for 3D printing has even applied manufactory 3D printers to the building of residential structures. The organization has made many house projects, consisting of small multi-story structures.
All construction elements can be properly printed cheaply and quickly and then fast assembled on the site of the construction. The company calculated that their 5-story building can cost as minimum as $161,000 to create & print.
3D Printed Number Plate At Lewis Grand Hotel, Philippines
While planning a travel to the Philippines, stay at the Lewis Grand Hotel in Angeles City, Pampanga. Here guests get greeted with the first 3D-printed hotel suite in the whole world.
The rooms of the hotel were designed by the hotel owner & materials engineer Lewis Jakic, in association with 3D printing expert Anthony Rudenko. They’ve created a huge 3D printer that prints concrete and sand from volcanic ash.
2-story Mansion in Beckum, Germany
The first-ever 3D-printed residential structure with an extent of around 80 sq. m. is the brainchild of the PERI GmbH (a German construction company) & the architectural structure bureau MENSE-KORTE ingenieure+architekten.
A BOD2 3D printer was utilized to print one sq. m. of double-wall cladding in Five minutes. The structure is a building with 3-layer hollow walls loaded with the insulating pack.
Will 3D Printing Be The Green Future of Construction?
Despite the disadvantages, experts are hopeful that 3D printing will be the bright future of the construction field.
The present challenges posed are typical barriers that any unique technology faces as soon as launched. They’re most likely to settle over time with a few testimonies of victory.
The tool’s cost comes down with general acceptance, more individuals will be acquainted with operating it, and also the advantages will outweigh the disadvantages by far.
Therefore, we can state that 3D printing isn’t a setting trend but it is certainly the green future of this construction industry.
3D Printed House Time & Cost
3D printing in construction is more affordable and faster than conventional construction techniques.
However, as 3D printing in construction is still in its initial stage, it’s hard to deliver definitive information about how much time it takes and exactly how much it may cost to build a 3D printed house with proper architectural design.
FAQ Construction 3D Printing
Following are the common questions on construction 3D printing
How Can 3D Printing Integrate With Construction?
At the moment, there is strong evidence that 3D printing is worthy of attention and can be applied in the construction segment, and this technology will likely be used more in the coming years.
True, it is not known how widely these devices will be used on the construction site, or whether they will remain only a tool for the manufacture of block elements for prefabricated structures. But for certain projects, it is reasonable to assume that 3D printers and this technology in construction will be a must-have tool in the arsenal of builders.
Is Construction 3D Printing Just For Houses?
No, construction 3D printing offers vast design possibilities, thus this patented technology is even for infrastructures like bridges. Construction 3d printing allows total freedom
Cost Of 3D Printed Home?
3D-printed home can cost a minimum of $4,000. However, the prices may vary as per the used material, and also the home’s size that’s to be 3D printed.
Serial 3D printing of buildings is becoming a reality – with the help of building 3D printers, houses are printed in Russia, China, Europe, Asia, and America. Construction 3d printing is certainly the green future of construction.
Just like any other technology, construction 3D printing has its share of advantages and disadvantages. Although experts are working on the disadvantages of construction 3D printing to make it way better than it is now.