3D Printers: How Will They Affect The Construction Industry?
The more I read and learn about 3D printing and its potential utilization, the more amazed I am with human ingenuity. The fact that we can create something virtually, combine it with raw materials and create anything we want from it is simply fascinating. It got me thinking about what this could mean for the construction industry. How will 3D printing change the core principles of our building practices? What will the future unveil?
We have all more than likely seen some futuristic movie with robots doing the work for us. We are all aware of an assembly line in a car manufacturing plant. But could this be done with a printer?
Like most Americans, it has always been my dream to design and build my own home. Growing up, I always wanted to be an architect. This is one of the primary reasons I am in the business I am in today. Being creative is one of my passions. That is probably why I have 4 children and enjoy scrapbooking. Yes, I’m a guy that enjoys scrapbooking and it not afraid to admit it!
3D printers represent a new dimension for humankind. Imagine with me for a minute:
- Anyone with a vision of their dream and a computer could design their own home down to the last detail
- The home would be verified for structural stability and feasibility
- A 3D printer was selected to suit the building’s needs
- Land clearing and ground preparation is performed
- Raw materials and the printer were delivered to the job site
- 3D printer is erected in the proper location
- The print button is hit
- A building is constructed EXACTLY as it was designed
Could it really be that simple? Will this be implemented in 10 years? 20 years? 30 years? I think so. There is no stopping the technological revolution era.
Some of the benefits as I see it:
- Materials could come from recycled parts, helping to sustain our environment
- Cost savings realized from multiple avenues of construction practices
- Errors are eliminated (Or at least reduced by a vast margin)
- Insurance costs are reduced
- Change orders fade away
- Labor costs are reduced by 75% or more
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. The bottom line is that costs are reduced. The environmental impact is reduced. If there was ever a win-win, this sounds like it.
Is this is a pipe dream? Maybe you should click here and see what is already happening out there in our big, beautiful world. Just for fun, take a moment right now and Google “3D House Printer” and see just how many things pop up. I warn you though; be prepared to be amazed. If NASA is already doing it, then it is only a matter of time before the rest of civilization adapts this amazing technology.
All this got me to thinking of how this would affect our beloved construction industry. I am sure there would be resistance to maintain current methods, much like there are still certain parts of the USA that just refuse to use trusses in favor of stick framing. Do they not know that trusses use less material, reduce waste, cost less and can be erected in a fraction of the time? Why in the world would they consider anything else?
Personally, I embrace change and would welcome this. One of my favorite sayings is “The only constant in life IS change”. I am excited for what the future holds. Maybe this is just the thing that makes the American dream of owning your own home an affordable reality.
Now keep in mind, I am only taking about the building industry. The same could be said for transportation, roadways, furniture, clothing and just about anything else you can think of. The possibilities are endless.
How do you see this affecting the construction industry? How long do you think it will take for this to become reality?
Christopher Gould – President
Gould Design, Inc.