Construction Realm

Construction details in the realm of 3D Printing.

3D Printed plastic part assemblages are simultaneously modular and customizable.
Fixings are either mechanical (M fixings, nut and bolt) , geometric (internal, external, interlocking – tongue and groove) or chemical (slow or rapid setting epoxy or other chemical anchoring).
3D models of fixing details help to assess, visualize and reiterate fixing details prior to manufacturing the actual parts.
Optimization of various ergonomic factors are addressed in each iteration.
Design and 3D printing operate in a constant feedback loop, the one group informing the other until a desired or determined outcome is achieved.


Now, 3D printing is the computer-controlled sequential layering of materials to create three-dimensional shapes.
It is particularly useful for prototyping and for the manufacture of geometrically complex components.
3D printing is relatively straightforward and affordable and is viable for a wide range of uses.
Such uses include product design, component and tool manufacture, consumer electronics, plastics, metalworking.


3D printers have sold rapidly since 2005 and the home use of 3D printers has become practical.
3D printing systems developed for the construction industry imply construction 3D printers.
Computer-aided design (CAD) or a 3D scanner allows for the creation of 3d models.
The printer reads the design and lays successive layers of printing medium.
This can be a liquid, powder, or sheet material.
It fuses each layer to create the item and this process is generally slow.


Depending on the technique adopted, printing can produce multiple components simultaneously, can use multiple materials and can use multiple colours.
Accuracy increases with a high-resolution subtractive process that removes material from an oversized printed item.
Some techniques include the use of dissolvable materials that support overhanging features during fabrication.
Materials such as metal can be expensive to print and therefore it is more cost-effective to 3d print a mould to create the item.


The Construction Industry


In the construction industry, 3D printers create construction components or create entire buildings. 
Construction works well with 3D printing due to the information necessary to create an item.
This is as a result of the design process and the construction industry acknowledges this CAD process.
The recent emergence of building information modelling (BIM) in particular may facilitate greater use of 3D printing.


Construction 3D printing may allow, faster and more accurate construction of complex or bespoke items as well as lowering labour costs and producing less waste.
It enables construction work in harsh or dangerous environments not suitable for builders.


Criticism


Clearly all of these projects have enormous potential. Questions remains about Construction 3D printing and how it integrates with other building components.
It further poses questions about how they will incorporate services and reinforcement, but in the long term, they should produce better, faster and perhaps lower-cost buildings.


However, systemized construction is not something we have taken to in the UK.
There was a brief boom in panelized systems for high-rise apartment blocks following the Second World War, but many of the resulting buildings were monotonous and ugly, often with condensation problems.
There is a resurgence of interest in the UK regarding panelization and prefabrication, however market share remains low.


All of these inventions require complex equipment, and whilst it is possible to envisage using some simplified version to manufacture specialist components on a more industrial scale, it is questionable whether this will replace bricks and mortar.


Alternatives


An alternative approach to digital fabrication of buildings is the 2D ‘WikiHouse’ project. 
WikiHouse, is not an additive process, but an open-source set of construction information for building components which can be downloaded, manufactured and assembled using local, commonly-available materials and equipment.
This is low-tech prefabrication which requires little training.


A WikiHouse plugin for Google SketchUp generates cutting files for components made from standard sheet materials such as plywood using a CNC (computer numerical control) machine.
The assembled components joins with peg and wedge joints.
The workers build resulting frames manually with cladding panels, services and windows.
The builders supposedly complete a ‘chassis’ for a single-storey in a day.

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