1. Shorter supply chain and quicker design process
On-site 3D printing means that various time-consuming steps can simply be cut out from the design process. Normally, the building design process requires input from up to five different parties including architects, engineers, contractors, clients, and executive parties. With 3D printing, all these roles can be integrated into the role of the architect alone, with the help of simulation techniques and modelling to ensure structural integrity. 3D representations also enable consumers to visualize the design, meaning that design changes can easily be implemented before we start building.
2. Fewer logistical processes and less waste
Contractors interviewed in our research believe that 3D printing has the potential to eliminate three major factors relating to transportation logistics.
1. Many parts get damaged in transit, which could be eliminated by on-site printing.
2. Parts must be over-engineered to withstand transportation, involving additional costs. On-site 3D printing would remove the need for such over-engineering.
3. Secure transportation and hoisting requires parts to have additional features, creating a need for additional, post-assembly work. On-site 3D printing would remove the need for these features. Furthermore, 3D printing removes the need for wooden molds that are used in traditional construction, because in 3D printing, the raw material are directly molded into the construction form.
3. Making Customized Houses Available to the Wider Market
The digitization of a large part of the production process means that complex products can be customized at a minimal added cost. Traditionally, constructing a house with the help of an architect has been too expensive for many consumers — not because of the cost of the architect per se, but because of the need for adapting construction methods. With 3D printing of concrete, the actual shape that is printed is irrelevant to the cost, meaning that more people will be able to afford customized houses to meet their requirements.
4. Simpler and more efficient installation of pipes and electrics
In conventional construction, heating systems, insulation, running water and electricity all require labor-intensive on-site installation. But with 3D printing of concrete, some of these functions can become integrated in the 3D printing process. Printing hollow walls means less materials are needed, enables improved insulation, and can potentially enable the use of 3D printed canals to transport hot or cold water.