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Latest 3D Printing Trends in Construction
3D printing of concrete is making disruptive transformations in the construction industry that involves a machine that uses concrete as the ‘ink’ to construct houses and other buildings. The algorithms made for this machine prints the structure in a layer by layer manner on the basis of a structure or image of a building that has already been sent to the printer. Organizations such as CyBe Construction, Contour Crafting Corporation, and Apis Cor have already manufactured, tested, and used 3D printers in the field of construction.
Recently, a group of researchers from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has constructed a 3D concrete structure by using two robotic machines. This project was undertaken by Pham Quang Cuong, Assistant Professor at NTU Singapore with his team. The innovation of concrete 3D printing structures lies in the automation of the process and the possibility of creating designs that cannot be achieved by traditional methods, and the structures can be constructed faster. However, for building bigger structures, the 3D printing did not receive wide acceptance due to space limitations. However, the use of mobile robotics in this field enables the constructors to print the structures not in manner but through step-by-step construction. The robots at NTU have a capacity to construct 1.86m x 0.46m x 0.13m concrete structure within eight minutes. It will take one week to have the full strength of the concrete structure.
During the process, it was highly challenging for the researchers to manage the printing with two robots at the same time. There is a chance for the occurrence of an unbalanced or uncoordinated printing while using two machines at the same time but with different algorithms. The step-by-step printing is also challenging because, it will not give a fruitful outcome if the joints between two parts are not properly fixed, and this may result in a breakage of that particular part.
3D printing is still in its growing stage; it is yet to prove its potential. It is undergoing several types of research and is gradually developing its processes and functionalities which aim at a disruptive future in the construction industry.