3D printing has been unlocking new ways to solve bespoke issues for a long time now. One of the more interesting developments isn’t only what it can make, but what materials it can print. More recently, concrete has been quickly developing as a 3D printing material, and many believe it may revolutionize the construction industry. Concrete 3D printers for sale range around a couple hundred thousand euros, but some smaller machines cost less.
Speed of construction
First and foremost, concrete 3D printing offers unparalleled speed and efficiency compared to more traditional methods. Traditional construction methods can take months of manual labor to complete a single project, with a lot of money being pointed towards remuneration and preparation. A common misconception around 3D printing is that it can only build small objects, like a hobbyist in their bedroom. But, 3D printing concrete can be done on an industrial size. In what looks a little bit like mobilized scaffolding, a 3D printer that stands at around 30 feet can build a tiny home in a matter of hours. 48 hours, to be exact.This efficiency makes it possible to produce houses much faster, which could have many benefits to society. For one, it could help reduce the housing shortage in many countries, as well as reduce the disturbance of local areas that construction can bring.
Another key advantage of concrete 3D printing is its ability to create complex and intricate designs. The concrete 3d printing technology allows for the creation of intricate geometries, such as curvilinear shapes and fluid forms, which would be near impossible (sometimes literally impossible) to achieve with conventional techniques. So, this isn’t just a concern of swapping experienced builders for inexperienced, limited machines. The resulting builds are likely, in many cases, to be an upgrade.
Concrete homes last for decades and carry a fairly low environmental footprint. It’s 100% recyclable and doesn’t contribute to deforestation. Furthermore, because of the efficiency of the 3D printing, it also has very little waste.
Concrete 3D printing is also highly flexible. Whilst a human may be able to interpret certain instructions, and architects may want their own expression to come through, a machine that is programmed with a blueprint is more flexible in many ways. It can be used to create structures of all shapes, sizes, and types, from small homes and offices to large commercial buildings. This versatility allows architects and engineers to create custom designs that are tailored to their specific needs, without the limitations imposed by conventional construction methods. Equally, though, it’s possible to reuse other people’s designs to save time.
Concrete 3D printing is also a cost-effective solution. Whilst the initial investment in the technology may be high, the long-term benefits are substantial. In economic terms, the variable costs are low, meaning each additional home built gets smaller, opening up a lot of scope for economies of scale. It’s not just time and labor that saves money, but 3D printing can also reduce the cost of maintenance, as the structures created using this technology are typically more durable and long-lasting than those constructed using traditional methods.
Low cost and social benefits
3D printing makes housing more accessible. As touched on earlier, the fact that it’s so low cost, efficient, and fast could mean that housing shortages are not only solved, but housing becomes cheaper. In many parts of the world, access to affordable housing is a major issue, and shipping over 3D printers is much easier than aiding lots of labor to construct buildings.
In conclusion, concrete 3D printing is an exciting new technology that has the potential to revolutionize the construction industry. Its speed, efficiency, design flexibility, environmental friendliness, and cost-effectiveness make it an attractive solution for many architects and engineers – as well as being a potential societal solution in places with housing shortages.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.