Advances in 3D printing have meant that its use in a variety of industries is now very probable. From fashion to health, food to weapons – the possibilities are literally endless. Exciting times indeed. The potential use that we are going to focus on in this article is how 3D printing might impact architectural design, if it hasn’t done already.
It’s commonly accepted by most experts today that 3D printing will completely revolutionise the way buildings are designed and built. But is this just something from a science-fictional vision of a future reality that will never actually be perceived? We don’t think so. In fact it’s already happening. We’ve seen prototypes of amazing looking, affordable 3D printed communities in far-away lands, as well as comfortable, secure 3D printed houses for those living in developing countries where people would otherwise not have access to such housing. Then you have the modular home idea, with 3D printed snap together architecture. Are these ideas all pipe dreams too? Why should it be? It’s affordable, it’s pleasing on the eye and it’s easily transportable.
As touched on briefly above, affordability is a major benefit. It costs little to produce the parts themselves and also little to get them there. What’s more, 3D printing is friendlier on the environment than traditional building methods because it produces less waste. Another direct saving.
Secondly, the use of 3D printing will give architects more aesthetic freedom, which will naturally lead to more radical designs. It could even change the way architects think about design altogether, in that they will start to integrate products together. So rather than designing two separate products, one amalgamated product will replace it.
Lastly, it will save space. Houses of the future will need much smaller footprints because the interior space will be utilised far more efficiently. How small will houses of the future be? Good question. Don’t get us wrong, clearly these buildings aren’t going to be palaces. To qualify as a ‘house’ it would need to have all the essentials – a bed, a kitchen, a bathroom, a small lounge (needless to say) and even some storage space. Well, prototypes have already been built which have managed to do all this in just under 50 square feet. That’s tiny! In addition, these houses can be built in a single day. Yes you heard us right – just 24 hours!
We could wax lyrical all day about the benefits of 3D printing in architecture but we simply don’t have time. Even the few benefits discussed above, from an architectural point of view, are enormously exciting.
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