c1When I envision the future I like to think about how 3D printing will likely play a major role in a majority of future manufacturing techniques. With the technology expanding in both scope and scale it is only a matter of time before we begin seeing larger items such as furniture and even homes being printed from the ground up. In fact, if you ask Contour Crafting’s founder Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis, he will tell you that large-scale concrete 3D printers capable of printing homes, and large buildings will be available to the construction industry within just two years, and that widespread construction using these techniques will be apparent within the next five years.

It’s not just Khoshnevis’ firm that is working on such technology, though. In fact several companies, organizations, and individuals are busy developing these technologies as we write this story. One group of companies, making up a small consortium, have recently shown tremendous promise in this space.

The Con3D Consortium–which consists of three Spanish companies: Prodintec, an additive manufacturing and design firm; Coprosa, a large construction firm headquartered in Asturias, Spain; and Tudela Veguín, a global leader in the production of cement and lime–have recently begun showing off the progress that they have made in this space. Earlier this month at the 13Prodintec facilities located in the Science and Technology Park of Gijón in Asturias, Spain, members from the consortium organized a conference related to the application of advanced 3D printing technologies within the construction industry. Highlighting the conference was a presentation called “Desarrollo de un Proceso Automatizado de Fabricación de Estructuras Mediante Tecnología de Impresión 3D para el Sector de la Construcción,” which roughly translates to “The Development of Automated Structures and Manufacturing Processes Via 3D Printing Technology for the Construction Industry.”

This presentation basically outlined progress being made with the Con3D project, which was funded by the Center for Industrial Technological Development (El Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico Industrial, or CDTI), and seeks to 3D print specialized concrete, mortar, and traditional concrete using a large-scale robotic arm 3D printer. The project, the first of its kind in Spain, and one of the first globally, could transform the way we construct buildings, making them safer, quicker to produce, and ultimately more affordable.

c2As a means to show what this technology is already capable of achieving, the group put on display a giant sofa, which had been printed with one of their machines out of a specialized concrete material. It was actually quite comfortable, according to those who sat in it, despite its appearance. The sofa, which was printed using a concrete extrusion method of additive manufacturing, was only intended as an example to show the layering and structure that the machine was capable of.

Although the consortium has not stated when this technology will be available for the construction industry, we are told that it is not just a technology meant for lab use, it’s completely industrializable and they intend to do just that.

What are your thoughts on this sofa, and what this technology may eventually mean for the construction industry? Discuss in the Con3D forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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