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3D printing and the construction industry

9/23/2015 at 7:27 pm by

3D printing is changing the world and promising to revolutionize the construction industry. When I first started writing this blog, I must admit I was intimidated because of the amount of information available on 3D printing. After Bre Pettis, cofounder and former CEO of 3-D printer producer MakerBot Industries, attended Sage Summit 2015, I decided it was time to learn more about this fascinating new technology. I have done my best below to summarize the information I have found and hopefully, as the reader, you are able to walk away feeling as though you’ve learned more.

By now you’ve probably heard of what 3D printing can do. From art, to the medical world, to the automobile industry, it’s changing the way things are created. It’s important to understand first, how it works. So, what is it? 3D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. 3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing because an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the entire object is created using computer control.

Architects and contractors are showing more interest in this new type of building as it’s proving to have profound implications for housing affordability as well as customization. According to Business Insider, a company in China announced it built ten 3D printed houses in just one day, which reportedly cost only $5,000 to make! Custom-made architecture is another key selling point with 3D printing as 3D printed components do not have the same design constraints as traditional construction methods. The designs and the models are only limited by a person’s imagination.

3D printing is proving to be friendly to the environment as well. Commenting on one contractor’s 3-D projects, a recent CNET article explains, “This process saves between 30 and 60 percent of construction waste, and can decrease production times by between 50 and 70 percent, and labor costs by between 50 and 80 percent. And, using recycled materials in this way, the buildings decrease the need for quarried stone and other materials—resulting in a construction method that is both environmentally forward and cost effective.”

With so many benefits, it’s not hard to understand how 3D printing will help define the future of the construction industry. To find more information about 3D printing, I encourage you to visit energy.gov and view the article “How 3D printers work.”

About the Author

Deb Carpenter-Beck is a writer and marketer with more than 25 years of experience in the construction and real estate industries. She often writes about technology and best practices and is passionate about helping contractors and real estate professionals achieve their business goals. You can follow her on Twitter @DebCBConstruct.

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