3D printing gathering pace in the construction industry

Over the past month, several new ways to use 3D printers for building work have been announced.

Researchers at Loughborough University have developed a 3D printer that prints in concrete. They have already printed a reinforced concrete bench that weighs one tonne and a two-meter square panel. The panel is formed in a wave pattern, which demonstrates the method’s versatility.

Richard Buswell, the team’s principal investigator, said:

“Anything is possible. We are working with a prototype, but within five years – with money and desire – there’s no limit to what could be printed.”

With the technology, architects in North Wales and other areas will be able to design structures that incorporate a range of shapes that are not currently viable. It is anticipated that the printer could be used to print a whole building, even a skyscraper, so the sky really is the limit when it comes to this technology.

In California, an architecture firm called Emerging Objects is also experimenting with 3D printing. It has developed an interlocking brick that reportedly requires no mortar and will hold together even in an earthquake.

On a slightly different note, a Japanese computer expert called Yuichiro Takeuchi has come up with a way to print gardens using 3D printing. The machine prints out a shape in a special yarn, and contained in this are all the nutrients needed for a plant to grow. These plant modules can be printed in any shape or size, making gardens and greenery possible practically anywhere. The plan is to install these gardens on the roofs of buildings.

Posted by Matt Hughes
November 5, 2014

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