If you are under the impression that the most modern manufacturing technology is limited to building less impactful parts, your ideas need some fresh air. With its growth and adaptation, 3D printing technology is changing the construction sector. To an extent that, very soon it might be possible to imagine a future wherein homes will be 3D printed. No! The claim is not very big and we have too much evidence to support it. Of course, there are challenges that lay in this path, but which path has ever been without speed breakers? So, the question of whether 3D printing can change the home improvement industry is something that we feel a little more towards “yes,” than towards “no.”
The overview of 3D printing and how it specifically can affect the construction and home improvement
Image by ZMorph3D
3D Printing technology that falls under the massive additive manufacturing industry was an $8 billion market in the year 2018. Now that might seem very low compared to the construction industry or any other well-established industry, but here is the thing: its annual growth rate is about 24-26 percent. And if that is taken into account, the technology is expected to become an industry worth $51 billion by 2026.
Being construction-specific, the 3D printing technology’s main benefit lets it outdo all other competitors helping develop your home or any other place. By its main benefit, we want to state, “The ability to mass customize.” And it’s because of this inherent benefit of 3D printing technology that engineers estimate that by using this technology they’ll be able to reduce the cost of building a home up to 50 percent.
How current companies’ tasks are indicating a strong influence of 3D printing on the home improvement industry in the future?
- MX3D, a creative Dutch company working on a mission to introduce people to the advantages of 3D printing, prints on-demand industrial, construction, infrastructure, heavy equipment, and maritime since 2014. One of the most ambitious projects that this company did put together is the MX3D Bridge. This was a fully functional stainless steel bridge across the Oudezijds Achterburgwal, one of the oldest canals located in the center of Amsterdam. The pedestrian bridge is 12 meters long and has a futuristic design in the construction of which the team of MX3D utilized two industrial robots. Each of them was responsible for building half of the bridge and meeting in the middle. This could be possible by applying mathematics, IoT, and 3D printing technology. Experts of each of these faculties of the study were present on the project for guiding the team of MX3D. Amazing isn’t it?
- Another such company emerges from a place that is world-famous for buildings of various shapes and sizes. You guessed it right, it’s Dubai. Dubai Future Foundation created the world’s first 3D printed commercial building. This building measures 6 meters in height, 36.5 meters in length, and about 12.1 meters in width. The complete project was built using a single printer printing for seventeen days while building it took three months. The significance of this phenomenon was that there fifty percent lesser manpower was used than that goes into play in creating a traditional building. And a 60 percent lesser wastage for its complete construction. Mind-boggling isn’t it?
Concerns regarding 3D printing in the home improvement industry
Having seen the positives of this site, it’s time to look at concerns posited by 3D printing in the home improvement industry. The first and foremost concern regarding 3D printing technology deals with investment. It can print buildings, homes, bridges, and a lot more using robots and electricity, but at what cost? And what are the logistics needed for getting these huge 3D printers to the location where you wish to build them? Are they available on rent, as most of the current construction equipment is? These are the questions that remain unclear specifically related to the cost of 3D printing implied in the home improvement industry.
The second problem wants us to dwell on the technical side of this technology. Even when there is not much technology involved in today’s home improvement or construction industry in general, there is a labor shortage. And once 3D printing technology becomes mainstream, will there be enough people able to operate the machinery and implement it for specific tasks? We do not know the statistics of this.
The third and the major concern posited by 3D constructed buildings or home is; how are they going to be able to withstand the climatic conditions? How lesser or safer they are, then the current homes or buildings in withstanding the environment around them? What could be the regulations for those homes as they are for current ones? These questions remain as black holes, still waiting to be explored. And though they seem to be minor or silly concerns facing this very promising technology of the future, their effects could be really detrimental to human life.
To state that the 3D printing technology cannot or is not changing industries or home improvement in specific would be unfair. Even though the specific industries that use 3D printing technology are not changing currently, the core industries are getting affected. Meaning that, if it has reached to change the construction industry in general, it’s very likely that it will in the coming decade; reach the home improvement industry too. And taking 3D printing technology as a perspective of reverse engineering and manufacturing objects or buildings from scratch does make a long-lasting impact on our minds. Doesn’t it?
The questions that are to be asked are the ones that we mention in the concerns section. Because those are the ones that will determine how sustainable is this 3D printing wave? Is it more sustainable than the methods that are used for home improvement currently, or not? And getting an answer to a question like this will make us choose 3D printing technology wisely and make the shift, rather than staying with a hazy picture. Additionally, we need more and more examples for companies like DFF and MX3D to more affirm than negate when asked: Can 3D printing change the home improvement industry?