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First 3D printed Bridge in Spain

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3D Printing - When will it become mainstream?

Here at The Floor Hub, we are fascinated in new trends, ways of working and creating innovative designs. After reading numerous articles about 3D printing in the construction industry, it got us thinking. Will 3D printing become standard in the construction industry? When will this happen? Will it be in our lifetime or for the next generations to come?

The construction industry has traditionally been slow to change the way they operate, but now they are starting to exploit digital technologies. For over a decade companies have been investigating and refining techniques for 3D printing or 'additive manufacturing' in construction. One such being the California startup Apis Cor, who has created a partnership with the Russian company PIK. They have reportedly printed a modest concrete house entirely onsite in 24 hours for barely $10,000—a 70% saving over conventional construction methods.  The firm was able to "print" a 400 sqft house. The printer, which resembles a small crane, places layers of a concrete mixture the company claims can last for 175 years and after the walls have been laid, the printer is removed and insulation, windows, appliances and a roof is added. The company claims these houses could be used to help quickly re-house people affected by natural disasters, or in areas of extreme housing crises.

Also The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) was in charge of the architectural design of the first 3D printed foot bridge which opened in December 2016. It has a total length of 12 meters and a width of 1.75 meters and is printed in micro-reinforced concrete. It stands in the urban park of Castilla-La Mancha in Alcobendas, Madrid (pictured).

3D printing in construction will be beneficial, not only for predictability and delivery times, but for sustainability, the freedom to design buildings and other forms, plus autonomous construction.

There is no doubt that one day 3D construction printing will become mainstream with little help required from people, but for now steps will be put into place to ensure the technology, costs, materials and regulations are all in place to move forward with such an amazing feat of engineering.

If you are interested in reading more about 3D printing in construction, take a look at these articles:

BCG - Will 3D Printing Remodel the Construction Industry?

Wired - The Race to Build the First 3D Printed Building

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