Architecture has a habit of adapting its aesthetics to new technologies, whether consciously or unconsciously. Some of the most beautiful buildings of the Industrial Revolution – the cantilever Forth Bridge, for example – were designed by engineers, not architects, for example. Architecture quickly absorbed the idea of buildings that reflected their purpose.
3D printing is the process of making physical models from three dimensional digital models. 3D printing has been around since the 1980s but at that time was a difficult and expensive operation and so had few applications. It is only since 2000 that it has become relatively straightforward and affordable and so has become viable for a wide range of uses such as; product design, component and tool manufacture, consumer electronics, plastics, metalworking, aerospace engineering, dental and medical applications, footwear and so on.
Construction 3D Printing refers to various technologies that use 3D printing as a core method to fabricate buildings or construction components. The term was first coined by James B Gardiner in 2011.
3D Printing Arm
In construction field, 3D printing is used to fabricate building or construction components. These components are then assembled and used in construction field.There are a variety of 3D printing methods used at construction scale, these include the following main methods: extrusion, powder bonding and additive welding. 3D printing at a construction scale will have a wide variety of applications within the private, commercial, industrial and public sectors.
But conventional buildings are not made by extrusion or casting or any other single manufacturing process; they are accretions of dozens of different techniques from cast-and-pour concrete to spot-welded steel extrusions to laminated glass. How could one process replace the dozens of others that we currently use? Yes, that is part of 3D printing’s promise — that it’s versatile enough to do the work of multiple machines — but current printed buildings are either minimally functional, if gorgeous, pavilions or houses that are basically dumb printed boxes with traditional bric-a-brac tacked on.
Architect James Bruce Gardiner pioneered architectural design for Construction 3D Printing with two projects. The first Freefab Tower 2004 and the second Villa Roccia 2009-2010. FreeFAB Tower was based on the original concept to combine a hybrid form of construction 3D printing with modular construction. This was the first architectural design for a building focused on the use of Construction 3D Printing. The focus of the project was to explore how 3D printing could provide a silver bullet to off-site construction – by providing a direct means of fabricating 3D printed monocoque modules, simplifying the construction process.The FreeFAB Tower project also depicts the first speculative use of multi-axis robotic arms in construction 3D printing.
The Villa Roccia 2009-2010 took this pioneering work a step further with the a design for a Villa at Porto Rotondo, Sardinia, Italy. The design for the Villa focused on the development of a site specific architectural language influenced by the rock formations on the site and along the coast of Sardinia, while also taking into account the use of a panellised prefabricated 3D printing process. The project went through two stages of development beyond the original concept design, the first focused on the design and fabrication of a column. The second design stage was focused on detailed design/documentation of a segment of the house. The second stage of prototyping was only partially completed and the project didn’t proceed to full construction.
Proposed design concept for Villa Roccia
3D printing technology promises to revolutionize architecture in the near-future, allowing designers to literally click-and-print complex buildings at a lower cost and faster speed than traditional construction methods allow. Here is a list of all ongoing and completed projects in field of 3D printing:
World’s first 3D printed office in Dubai.
World’s Largest free form 3D printer and the wall that it printed.
Since its advent, 3D printing has been on a steady path forward. And the further along it moves, the more people have been wondering how it will affect and benefit all industries. Here are some possible future benefits of 3D printing in construction:
As 3D Printing use in the Construction Industry is in its early stages, it is still too early to tell what will happen. But it’s exciting to watch the change and imagine the future possibilities!
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