Netherlands-based Witteveen+Bos just completed development of Southeast Asia’s largest 3D printer for the construction industry. The Housing and Development Board (HDB) in Singapore made the announcement on September 11th at the PEAK Forum, a show dedicated to industry professionals sharing their ideas in design and construction, as well as engineering—enjoying this year’s theme, ‘Driving Greater Productivity through Innovation.’
The new concrete 3D printer is able to print parts up to 9m long, 3.5m wide, and 3.8m tall, developed for the HDB by Witteveen+Bos South-East Asia Pte. Ltd. in a joint effort to also include Robin Village Development Pte. Ltd. and Nanyang Technological University. With HDB in charge of the majority of Singapore’s housing, the mission is to use 3D printing in construction to create a more rapid solution to housing development.
As the Minister of National Development Mr. Lawrence Wong, and the CEO of HDB, Mrs. Cheong-Chua Koon Hean arrived, the development teams presented a sample 3D print, measuring 11 m2 (3.6 m long x 3 m width x 2.75 m high). The part took 13 hours to 3D print, and the group considered it a ‘successful product of the printing trials.’
The new 3D printer not only relies on digital building information modeling (BIM) but also AM techniques that actually allow users to create parts with free-form construction—eliminating molds and forms—and cutting down on extra industrial waste. Not only that, this method brings forth one of the greatest benefits of 3D printing as parts never before possible can be created with their new hardware.
Overall, however, the project team involved in creating the 3D printer highlights many new advantages that become available to the construction industry, from the use of innovative new materials and the elimination of waste without the necessity of molds, to the decreased need for labor in terms of manpower and hours needed. Production time is decreased significantly, and while there may be some initial expense at the beginning for companies transitioning to additive manufacturing, the affordability factor is what is attractive to companies of so many sizes.
The construction industry relies on innovation in design and technology to attract consumers of all types from around the globe. And while 3D printing has infiltrated nearly every industry today, the impacts within construction and especially housing are noteworthy because of the potential for making the quality of life better for humans in developing countries as well as progressive areas like US cities where consumers are looking for more affordable ways to live.
The Internet of Things (IoT) often accompanies progressive new constructions also, with amazing 3D printed components connecting users with appliances and more. The combination of IoT monitoring and 3D construction could change the way we build homes and infrastructure. From small meeting structures to sustainable living endeavors, and on to long-term societal changes for office buildings and homes, construction in 3D printing continues to be a major point of interest.
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