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Over the past years interest in using 3D printing for construction has grown significantly. Most of the “3D printed house” stories that emerged subsequently were exaggerated or far too optimistic. However, new technologies and developments are emerging that seem to point to a future where 3D printing will be used in construction. Here we’ll give you an overview of some of the 3D printing projects in construction that are happening now.
Making concrete panels for London’s Crossrail
James Bruce Gardiner has developed the FreeFab 3D printing method whereby a robot arm prints a mold out of wax. Construction company Laing O’Rourke is using this to make molds for concrete panels that will be used on London’s Crossrail project.
A FreeFab made wax mold for concrete.
A metal-printing robot arm.
Dutch construction company Heijmans is working with designer Joris Laarman to 3D print metal using a robot arm called MX3D. The company hopes to 3D print a bridge with it in Amsterdam. If metal 3D printing could be made affordable than this has a lot of applications for construction.
The MX3D 3D printer.
The 3D printed bridge in Eindhoven
Not to be outdone another Dutch construction company, BAM has partnered with the Technical University of Eindhoven (TUe) to 3D print a bridge out of concrete.
The 3D printed bridge
Using AI to 3D print on a large scale
British start up AI Build is using artificial intelligence and machine learning to 3D print large scale structures out of plastics using a robot arm. By marrying artificial intelligence to 3D printing the company can control the 3D printer in a more reliable way and have it build structures autonomously.
A sculpture made with AI Build’s 3D printer and machine intelligence.
The giant 3D printer arm from Apis Cor
Start up Apis Cor has 3D printed a dwelling and hopes to commercialize its 3D printing technology for buildings.
Apis Cor’s 3D printer arm.
The construction robot from MIT
Steven Keating developed an autonomous construction robot capable of 3D printing large structures using foams. Keating now works at Apple.
The WASP project can print entire villages
WASP Project is an Italian 3D printer OEM. The company makes delta type 3D printers. Started with ideals their goal is to print entire villages. The company has now started printing its first structures using a 12 meter high delta 3D printer.
The WASP Project Delta 3D printer.
3D print your car
The US’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has developed BAAM a 3D printing technology for large scale structures. The ORNL based AMIE lab has made car bodies and small dwellings with its 3D printer.
The AMIE demonstration project’s 3D printed car body and structure.
Building walls with 3D printing
Contour Crafting was one of the earliest 3D printing construction projects out there. The company has now obtained financing to make its 3D printing for construction machines available.
The Contour Crafting 3D printer making a wall.
Making structures for the Italian military
Another early 3D printing construction pioneer was Enrico Dini with DShape. They’ve now made art structures and are working on temporary 3D printed structures for the Italian military.
DShape’s 3D printer in action.