In a previous post, we explored how 3D-printing technology is really taking off in the world of architecture. In the future, will our cities be transformed using this technology? Many commentators think so, we explore their predictions for the future.
The Benefits of 3D-Printed Architecture
3D printing offers a range of benefits over traditional methods used in housing design and construction. An average brick and mortar home in the UK takes years to build, whereas a 3D-printed home can come into being far quicker. HuaShang Tengda, a Chinese construction company, were the first construction company to design and build a 3D-printed home in record time, taking construction time down to a month and a half. The company constructed their model using Class C30 concrete, which ensures that the model stays in-tact even when threatened with an earthquake as strong as an 8 on the Richter scale. The company have also gone on to build a range of more complex structures, beyond their original small scale model, branching out into complex structures with multiple floors.
3D-printed homes are now being printed in record time, scaling down the construction time to mere hours; Apis Cotr, a 3D printing company based in Russia and San Francisco, printed a home in 24 hours, using a mobile printer to help them to easily construct a building on site.
The low-cost and efficient nature of 3D printing technology could also make it a great option for low-income housing, due to the avoidance of excess waste materials and fast construction time. Many commentators argue that 3D printing will result in constructions that are around 60% cheaper than traditional builds; making 3D printing appear an attractive option for affordable homes for all.
Behrokh Khoshnevis, a professor at the University of Southern California, highlights the appeal of adopting 3D printing on the grand scale, in his interview with The Guardian:
“Khoshnevis, who is also working with Nasa on 3D-printed lunar structures, has no doubt that in the future, a large portion of cities will be printed. “I think in about five years you are going to see a lot of buildings built in this way.”
He hopes the technology will help address a worldwide shortage of low-income housing. “I think it is a shame that at the dawn of the 21st century, about two billion people live in slums,” he says. “I think this technology is a good solution.”
He adds that 3D printing will encourage governments to build affordable homes because of savings in time and cost. A significant difference between traditional construction methods and 3D printing is efficiency. If in the future a London borough wished to build a public housing estate, for instance, they could hire a developer with a 3D printer. The printer would then be delivered to the site along with the construction material and architectural design on a flash drive. “They plug it in, hit a button and the buildings get built,” Khoshnevis says. “The nice thing about it is that we can build beautiful, dignified neighbourhoods – not cookie-cutter, box-like houses.”
Could our cities soon be filled with 3D printed skyscrapers, shops and houses? Many think so. With speedy, inexpensive construction methods adding to the appeal of 3D-printed buildings, we may be closer than ever to world where 3D printing takes centre stage.