It may come as a blow to the construction industry, but the era of 3D-printed buildings could soon be enabling safer, cheaper, and more sustainable building practices.
A Chinese engineering and design firm has unveiled the world’s tallest 3D-printed building – a five-storey residential apartment block made from recycled construction materials.
The [3D printing] machine works by printing, layer by layer, large sections of buildings (such as wall panels) using an “ink” made from a mixture of fibreglass, steel, cement, hardening agents and recycled construction materials. These sections are then assembled on site, much like prefabricated concrete, to create the final structure.
3D-printed walls are about 50 percent lighter than concrete walls, but have “much higher strength and toughness”; they won’t crack, that they have strong water-proofing, as well as improved air permeability and heat retention compared to walls made from “common construction materials.
As the team at ArchDaily reports, “the two buildings represent new frontiers for 3D-printed construction, finally demonstrating its potential for creating more traditional building typologies and therefore its suitability for use by mainstream developers”.
”Industrial waste from demolished buildings is damaging our environment, but with 3D printing, we are able to recycle construction waste and turn it into new building materials,“ said Ma. ”This would create a much safer environment for construction workers and greatly reduce construction costs.”
Myles Gough – 29 January 2015
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