Construction 3D printing technologies | Explain
Construction 3D printing is a rapidly growing application of 3D printing that has seen exponential growth in recent years. The reason is due to the development of construction 3D printing technologies, building materials and supporting software. By combining these three things, technology is able to build solid structures like buildings, brides, outdoor furniture, and even sculptures.
According to a 2019 MarketsAndMarkets report, the construction 3D printing industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 245% through 2024. This forces us to stop and take notice of the new application of 3D printing and of its evolution in the future.
But before we talk about the implications of the technology, we’ll explore the construction 3D printing technologies in use today and how they work.
Construction 3D printing technologies
The traditional construction industry is facing a new challenge related to emerging 3D printing technologies developed specifically for printing concrete and metal structures. Construction isn’t limited to houses, but multi-story buildings, infrastructure like bridges, statues, and abstract art are also on the radar of new technology.
We take a look at some of the construction 3D printing technologies currently in use.
1. Robotic arm extruders
One of the most popular techniques used in construction 3D printing is the use of robotic arm extruders. This technique is called Contour Crafting. This method involves depositing the building material through a large material extruder onto the ground where the structure will be built.
Construction 3D printing is very similar to FDM / FFF 3D printing. In the case of FDM / FFF 3D printing process where the extruder deposits the molten material on a build platform. The construction area is always inside the guide rails and the rails ensure that the deposition occurs in the correct geometric location thanks to the instructions assigned by the software.
Likewise, for concrete 3D printing, guide rails are installed around the area of the building where the deposit will take place. The extruder moves into position according to all the instructions transmitted by the software. Printing follows a similar process layer by layer of extruding the concrete material from the extruder nozzle. Trowels placed on the side and above the nozzle to flatten the extruded layers and ensure the strength of the model.
2. 3D sand printing
Another construction 3D printing technique is called D-Shape®. It is a digital construction method that uses a binder jet 3D printer for the architecture. An Italian architect – Enrico Dini, was observing the Z-Corp 3D printer in his workplace when he suddenly realized the potential of technology in architectural space.
D-Shape® is a particle bed process that materializes buildings or building blocks directly from your computer via a process of alternating layers of granular material and writing on it with a ‘binder of’. ink ” suitable which transforms the granular material into a shape. The D-Shape 3D printer spreads a thin layer of sand powder according to the geometry of the design as layer by layer and after each layer the deposited material is poured with droplets of a binder material to harden the healthy particles .
According to the company, D-Shape is the only construction 3D printing process capable of designing and constructing an entire building structure in one go. It can print anything and everything from basement to roof, foundations, partitions, ceilings, stairs and cavities for MEP, exterior patterns and furniture. This is made possible by the particular technique of material deposition which makes the structure self-sustaining during its construction. In this way, it is possible to construct buildings of any shape.
However, it should be noted that this technology can not only be used for the construction of large structures but also for complex and abstract art structures.
3. 3D printing of metal structure
The third popular method of construction 3D printing is to use WAAM (Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing) technology developed by MX3D – a Dutch start-up. Their machine can build metal structures with a 6-axis robot, dropping 2 kilograms of material per hour.
WAAM technology is a type of Directed Energy Deposition (DED) 3D printing technology that uses welding equipment, a nozzle, and a metallic material (metal rods in this case) to build objects in a layer-by-layer process. layer. Metals such as stainless steel, bronze, Inconel and aluminum are compatible with this technology.
According to the MX3D team, they combined an industrial robot with a welding machine to make it into a 3D printer running with their own software. The technology was developed through collaboration with Air Liquide and ArcelorMittal.
Many startups are exploring this technology. In 2017, the Royal BAM group partnered with Eindhoven University of Technology to design a 3D printed concrete bridge for cyclists, one of the world’s first completed construction 3D printed bridges. In addition, XtreeE, a French startup, worked with Vinci Construction, an established French construction engineering company, to test the construction of complex structures by this method.
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