3D CONCRETE PRINTING HAS ARRIVED
3D printing technology has been making huge strides in recent years, redefining the paradigm of what is possible in making medical devices, appliances, tools, and more. Now it has entered the construction industry in a big way. According to a June 26 article on Markets Insider, the 3D concrete printing market will be worth nearly 1.5 billion USD by 2023. This projected growth in the building sector is due to increasing need for affordable structures, continued urbanization, our growing population, and demand for new construction.
The concept of 3D concrete printing dates back further than you’d think.
In the 1960s, a machine using a synthetic foam and pumped concrete was developed, but the technology didn’t yield any promising results. Behrohk Khoshnevis started contour crafting as a new ceramic extrusion and shaping method; it was patented in 1995. Extrusion creates an object by laying down selective material in layers; this technology is still the most widely-used today.
In 2008, The Loughborough University in England led efforts to explore concrete printing. 3D printing was not new, but developing the tools to push a paste extrusion, like concrete, through the printer’s nozzle in layers was a major step forward. Since then, new 3D printers are arriving on the market every year, each faster, more powerful, and more accurate than previous models.
3D concrete printing brings exciting new benefits and opportunities to the construction industry:
- Faster construction, better efficiencies
- Lower labor costs
- Less waste – uses only the exact amount of material needed
- Architectural freedom
- Mass customization potential
- Easy to create and print models
- Speed and accuracy - fabricate a house in as little as 24 hours
- Sustainability – reduce harm to the environment
- 3D printed structures are strong; some can withstand tornados
- Affordable homes – low-cost option for sheltering the needy/responding to natural disasters
Some noteworthy examples of 3D concrete printed structures are: Chinese company Winsun's, 200 square- meter houses and 5-story, 1,100 square-meter apartment building in China; Huashang Tengda 400 square-meter two-story villa in China; California startup Apis Cor, partnered with PIK, a Russian company, to print a concrete house onsite, in 24 hours, for $10,000 . In October, 2017, a bridge fabricated from 3D printed concrete was installed in Eindhoven, Netherlands. In early June, 2018, Eindhoven University of Technology announced plans to create the world’s first commercial housing project – five rental houses made of 3D printed concrete.
As with any cutting-edge technology, it will take a while before building with 3D concrete printing is a common occurrence. According to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), as of early 2018, fewer than 40 major projects worldwide have come to fruition. The estimated total value of these is less than $100 million; the construction industry’s annual revenue is valued at $10 trillion globally. 3D concrete printing, though, is gaining momentum, and it’s here to stay.
Ace Cutting has serviced the concrete and masonry cutting business for 100 years. We have seen the construction industry grow and change, and look forward to supplying American-made, premium-brand tools for the next exciting chapters. Call us at (888) 283-2597 or visit Acecutting.com.