A 3D printer is a machine capable of replicating 3D designs, creating pieces or volumetric models from a design made by computer, downloaded from the internet or collected from a 3D scanner. They arise with the idea of converting 2D files into real or 3D prototypes. Commonly it has been used in the prefabrication of parts or components, in sectors such as architecture and industrial design.
The largest structure made by a 3D printer, recognized by Guinness World Records, is Vulcan Pavilion. A temporary pavilion designed by Laboratory for Creative Design (LCD). Composed of 1023 printed segments individually.
This technology is also already venturing into the construction of homes.
A US company built a house of 38 m2 with only 10 thousand dollars, including wiring and insulation.
The first house built entirely on the site with a 3D printer is in Stupino Town, in the Moscow region. Those responsible for this project are called Apis Cor – a start up based in San Francisco (USA) – and PIK, a Russian developer.
On the other hand we have Shanghai WinSun who has also experimented with 3D construction and which units cost $ 5,000 (around 90 thousand pesos). The printer applies layers of concrete until the desired structure is achieved. Although the parts must be assembled by human workers, the whole process is accomplished in less time and for much less money.
What are the advantages and challenges of this new technology?
- Costs: The saving is considerable: if we compare it with the average of a traditional construction project of a house, 60 percent less material is needed, 70 percent less time and 80 percent labor.
- Design: The most important advantage of this technology is the ease it offers to manufacture custom designs, which will encourage variety instead of mass manufacturing. 3D printing technology will make the geometric complexity in building construction can be carried out without too much effort or additional cost
- Materials: There is a possibility that using this technology may lead to the use of other types of materials. Among these, recycled materials or that help to contribute to the environment would be the priority.
- Challenges: There are those who say that the idea of printing houses in one piece is a utopia. On the other hand, it will be feasible to manufacture construction components by digital means, a process that will be carried out in the factories and, subsequently, each element will be transported to the corresponding place.