3D printed construction is positioned to rapidly takeover the building industry. Automated 3D printed construction can build faster and more efficiently than traditional construction. Teams of construction workers will soon be replaced by automated robots.
Spain opened the first 3D printed pedestrian bridge in 2016. The bridge offers the greatest strength possible while using the least amount of cement, according to engineers. In January, Shanghai rolled out the world’s longest printed concrete bridge.
The first 3D printed homes will be available for rent this summer in Eindhoven, one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands. The country will have the world’s first 3D printed steel bridge later this year. The first 3D printed bridge in the U.S. was built by the military, a 32-foot bridge at Camp Pendleton. The bridge was constructed in a fifth of the time compared to traditional construction methods.
The US military also built a 500 square-foot building in Champaign, Illinois with a concrete 3D printer. The walls are made 2.5 times stronger than typical walls by using a construction method that would not be reasonable to do with normal construction methods.
The complex designs that can be deployed with 3D printers allow for fewer materials to be used. A recent study suggests 3D printed construction would create 30 percent less material waste, use less energy and create less carbon dioxide emissions than traditional construction.
A Danish 3D printing company has sold the world’s largest 3D printer to a Saudi Arabian construction company to speed up housing construction. A company in Texas unveiled a 3D construction scale printer that they claim can build a 2,000-square-foot home in three days for half the cost of usual construction methods.
The technology is rapidly gaining wider use. For now, 3D printers only produce one kind of material at a time, so builders still manually integrate other components. But all of this is rapidly changing and the human component in production is quickly being phased out.