Technology is still in the early stage, multi-party applications can be expected in the future

  When can 3D printed houses live

  Today's viewpoint

  Bridges are common in the Netherlands, which is famous for its canals.

But four bridges are particularly peculiar: each is 26 feet long and is made of concrete by a large 3D printer.

The bridge built in this way is the first in the world, and it was born on October 17, 2017 in the small town of Hemmert in southern Holland.

  From desktops to construction sites, 3D printing, as part of the technological revolution, has achieved the goal of extruding plastics and other materials into solid objects.

Since 2017, several companies in the United States, Europe and Asia have "printed" bus station shelters and conference hall partitions, and even entire residences.

  In the future, the application of 3D printing is not limited to the construction industry. In the fields of education, disaster relief, and medical treatment, the concept of technology for the benefit of mankind will be fully reflected in 3D printing.

  3D printing, the "all-rounder" of the construction industry

  The working principle of 3D architectural printers is very similar to that of inkjet printers in home offices, except that instead of ink, they spit out concrete.

  The nozzle runs back and forth on the track, and the squeeze mode is controlled by the computer, so that a layer of concrete (or steel, or other materials) can be laid exactly where needed.

When the slow-moving nozzle reaches the end of its path (up to 100 feet), this layer is usually hardened, just enough to put another layer on top of the first layer.

Layer after layer, a wall for the family was built.

With precise deposition patterns, nozzles can also make room for windows, doors, utility pipes, and other designs and structures.

  "Scientific American" reported that one of the most obvious advantages of 3D printing buildings is speed.

It takes about 24 hours of printing time to build a 500 square foot (about 46.45 square meter) single-story house.

  ICON is a company specializing in 3D printing architecture in Texas, USA. Its co-founder and CEO Jason Ballard said: “When a 3D printer is building a house, it will consider its structure, insulation, Wall panels, internal and external surface treatments and piping systems.” In general, “this usually requires 20 people representing 5 or 6 different industries to work for several days.”

  In addition, 3D printing buildings also reduce waste.

  According to reports, a typical residential construction site generates about 4 tons of garbage.

Since the concrete used in conventional floor construction is evenly applied, about half of it will be wasted regardless of whether it needs structural support in a specific area.

This is particularly harmful to the environment, because cement, as the main component of concrete, accounts for about 7% of our carbon dioxide emissions.

In contrast, a 3D printer can change the thickness of the structure very accurately, using concrete only where it is really needed, a process called topology optimization.

  Digitalization of the printed structure is another advantage of 3D printing.

This means that the design presented on the computer can be directly converted into printer instructions.

This eliminates the need to convert the design into drawings, thereby reducing unnecessary errors and troubles, thereby saving costs and reducing delays.

  There is an additional benefit of digitalization, that is, it removes obstacles to design creativity.

Architects can provide custom or semi-custom designs at a lower cost without having to bother to train others to execute the plan.

  "The printer doesn't care what design you come up with." said Theo Salet, a structural engineer at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. He was a pioneer in printed architecture and built the Amsterdam Bridge in the Netherlands. "It won't be because of your originality. And charge you more".

  Technology is still in its early stages

  Of course, "Scientific American" reported that the technology of 3D printing buildings is still in its early stages. To expand the scale of 3D printing buildings, more work is needed in terms of technology and supervision.

For the former, practitioners have not yet found an effective way to reinforce concrete from the printing press.

In traditional buildings, this is done by laying steel bars.

  Salette believes that the biggest vision for 3D printed buildings is to have new concrete formulas or new extrudable materials in the future, which are strong enough without steel bars.

For example, epoxy resin is a potential candidate. It is a polymer that is currently used to make adhesives and coatings in construction.

  The guidelines and construction procedure rules for the quality inspection of 3D printed houses also need to be finalized. Salette warned that if inexperienced and careless builders come into contact with the printer, their buildings may collapse.

  Nowadays, 3D printing architecture is an "obscure event", low-key and low-cost.

  For example, ICON printed a house in Austin, Texas, USA, designed for a family at a cost of US$10,000.

Then, the company also plans to bring a printer to Latin America, where it will build 50 low-cost homes.

  At the same time, Salette is about to start building a 90-foot (approximately 15 meters) high bridge in Amsterdam, and will also cooperate with others to build several houses in the Netherlands.

  "Scientific American" reported that although this technology is still in its early stages, commercial-grade 3D printing construction machines may fundamentally change the construction industry in the next decade.

Experts believe that they can cut construction time by half, reduce costs by as much as one-third, and provide a more environmentally friendly and robust design, as well as more room for customization.

  According to data from the North Star Market Research Company of the United States, with the development of this technology, it is estimated that by 2026, the global 3D printing construction market will expand from US$4.6 million in 2019 to US$14.9 billion.

  Education, disaster relief, medical care... 3D printing has a promising future

  The official website of the World Economic Forum reported on February 19 that the non-profit organization Think Huts and the architectural design company Studio Mortazavi have created the world's first 3D printing school on the campus of Fianarantsoa University in Madagascar.

  The solution of 3D printing school provides more children with educational opportunities and solves the problem of insufficient investment in physical infrastructure.

  The benefits of science and technology are reflected in 3D printing technology.

In addition to the construction industry, reports claim that 3D printers will be increasingly used in various industries, from the production of consumer products such as sunglasses to industrial products such as auto parts.

In the education industry, 3D modeling can be used to bring educational concepts to life and help children develop practical skills, such as programming.

  In Mexico, 3D printing has built a 46-square-meter house in Tabasco, including a kitchen, living room, bathroom and two bedrooms, which will be open to some of the poorest families in the state.

  This technology has also proven to be vital in disaster relief.

According to the British "Guardian" report, when the Nepal earthquake occurred in 2015, as part of the rescue work, a 3D printer installed on the Land Rover was used to help repair Nepal's water pipes.

  In addition, 3D printing has also been successfully applied in the medical field.

In Italy, when a hospital in Lombardy, the hardest hit by the new crown epidemic, was in short supply, the startup Issinova printed 3D ventilator valves for patients with the new crown.