The 2016 construction of Dubai’s Office of the Future signaled that 3D printing in construction was ready for its close-up. The 2,691-square-foot building uses energy-efficient HVAC systems, responsive LED lighting, and solar shading to reduce power consumption, and it took a team of 18 people just 17 days to complete using a 20x40x120-foot 3D printer. After cementing its place as a product-prototyping technology, 3D printing has branched out into a whole new dimension.
But for the construction industry, 3D printing is as much an urgent need as it is a flashy novelty. Construction is responsible for 23% of air pollution, 40% of drinking-water pollution, and 50% of landfill—and that needs to change.
As the software and machinery improves, architects and construction firms are increasingly turning to 3D printing to realize complex shapes; build in dangerous or remote areas; and save time, money, and materials. The age of 3D printing in construction is here—and as barriers fall away, it will become key to sustainable construction in the future.
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