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3D Printing and Construction: What You Need to Know

The applications for 3D printing seem to be endless. While it is still a new technology, innovators are already developing ways to use it to automate the construction process with large-scale printers that could conceivably build homes overnight.

How it works
3D printers are often thought of as microwave-sized machines that recreate digital models out of plastic. While this is true for most consumer-based 3D printers, there's a whole other level of 3D printing technology being developed and implemented for industrial uses, including construction.

Large-scale 3D printers designed for bigger projects are becoming more mainstream and affordable. The introduction of 3D printers to the industry can lead to reduced costs labor and materials and more efficient construction.

While it's not likely we'll see 3D-printed buildings become commonplace anytime soon, it's important to keep the concept in mind and think of ways it can be applied to your business in the near future.

Pros

  • Reduced labor costs – With machines doing much of the heavy lifting, labor will be exponentially reduced (though not eliminated, as there is still need of subcontractors and experts to set up and run the machines).
  • Faster construction – Many 3D printing construction companies claim their process is faster than traditional cement laying.
  • Standardized construction – With printers working off a single digital blueprint, there should theoretically be few errors.
  • Less waste – Ideally, printers would use only the exact amount of raw materials needed for each project.

Cons

  • Less labor and traditional materials demand affects the industry.
  • Transportation and setup can be tedious and costly.
  • Errors on the digital back end can cause tremendous setbacks