How 3D Printing in Construction Will (Eventually) Transform the Built World

3D Printed BuildingThe 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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