We truly are in an age of wonder. We have seen countless advancements in both technology as well as production styles in modern construction. But none more impressive than having the means to “print” a full scale home with a modified, but commercially available 3D printer, all from the comfort of your tablet or laptop.
Andrew Rudenko, a US-based architect, spent two years developing the expertise and means to print a freestanding “mini” castle the size of a wendy house - yes, a fairy tale castle, a la Disney. He also managed to create this 3D Castle Video that documents the project. All it took was the help of a few friends, a modified 3D printer, and layer upon layer of smooth, extruded concrete... He is now looking to further hone his skills. Next, he plans to print a full-scale, liveable house.
“A new era of architecture is inevitable, and I’m excited to see where the next few years will lead in terms of construction and design. I have previously been sure I could print homes, but having finished the castle, I now have proof that the technology is ready,” he comments.
Rudenko’s castle stands out thanks to its unusual choice of shape. But he may be slightly behind the pace, as a private company in Shanghai has already used 3D printers to print 10 full-sized houses in just one day! This project,10 houses in 24hrs, happened earlier this year. A specially modified 3D printer used a composite material consisting of construction waste materials mixed with quick drying cement and a hardening agent. It’s yet another amazing demonstration of how this technology could be further utilised to build more affordable, “greener” housing in a shorter period of time.
There’s even a successfully completed, five-storey apartment block in China Apartment Block Printed in China. The structure was fabricated in parts, transported to site and then asembled, using steel reinforcements and insulation in order to comply with building regulations.
In summary, 3D printing looks set to make housing easier and faster to build and its future isn’t very far away. Yet how will this affect the existing construction industry and its workforce should 3D printing technology be implemented on an industrial level? According to Stats SA, in South Africa more than 1.18 million people are employed by the construction industry either on a contract basis or permanently. It might be interesting to ask how they plan to adapt to construction’s next wave?