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How 3D Printing Is Changing Sustainable Housing
The construction industry has been progressing unimpressively slowly towards the much-needed sustainable housing. Part of this unfortunate trend has been the lack of workable green management interventions by contractors and homeowners.
Construction regulatory authorities have also not been able to sufficiently legislate against the vast amount of waste that the construction industry generates every year or to hold construction companies accountable for their unsustainable approach to construction.
Thanks to disruptive technologies such as 3D printing, however, there is hope that the elusive dream of sustainable housing will soon be realized. This technology is gradually revolutionizing processes through which products- houses included- are designed and manufactured.
By changing the structure of supply chains, 3D printing will potentially make the construction industry leaner and more sustainable.
What is 3D printing?
3D printing is a computerized process that converts 3-dimensional digital objects to 3-dimensional solid objects. The process is also known as additive manufacturing because the solid 3D printed objects are created in a somewhat “additive” process. Layers of the constructing material are laid down successively until the object’s desired size and shape are achieved.
3D printing enables constructors to create complex shapes and designs that traditional construction methods cannot while using less material, saving on cost, and attain sustainable housing.
Having a good house with all of the necessary kitchen tables, ready to assemble cabinets, and other essential appliances have now become a must. For anyone planning a home remodelling project, 3D printing can provide a potentially environmentally friendlier alternative to traditional construction methods.
Here are three proven ways of how 3D printing is changing sustainable housing and making things easier on companies and homeowners:
1. Reduced waste
Transportation logistics in the construction industry are structured in a manner that pollutes our environment with unwanted waste. 3D printing has the potential to remedy this in three ways:
- 3D printing can be done on-site and eliminate the need for material transportation. That means lesser debris in the environment because no materials will get damaged on transit.
- Materials used in 3D printing do not need as much engineering and reinforcement as it is the case with traditional construction, primarily because 3D printing materials aren’t made to withstand transportation stress. That means lower construction costs and lesser materials used.
- On-site 3D printing eliminates the need for tedious post-assembly processes. Everything is tailor-made for the project at hand; the raw material is directly moulded into a construction.
2. Enabling the use of sustainable and environmentally-friendly materials
3D printing allows constructors to use a variety of sustainable and environmentally-friendly materials, and to recycle solid waste. While plastic is the most commonly used material for 3D printing, the two plastics used in this method (ABS and PLA) are more sustainable than ordinary plastic.
3D printers can recycle ABS despite it being a petroleum-based material. When done with regularity, that would save the world from plastic pollution. PLA, on the other hand, is made from plants, making it more sustainable than most construction materials out there.
3D printing has also made significant contributions to the improvement of flooring materials. 3D printers can make flooring tiles from vinyl, ceramic, rubber, and linoleum, among other classy and modern elements. All these flooring options are very sustainable. Rubber, for example, is extracted from Hevea trees through an environmentally-friendly extraction process.
3. More efficient installation of pipes and electricity
Traditional construction methods necessitate the labour-intensive installation of heating systems, plumbing, insulation, and electricity. All these installations are done on-site and can be pretty pricey. With 3D printing, however, all the needed installations can be printed in 3D and integrated into the construction process.
Installing electricity is also effortless. And because their walls are hollow, 3D printed houses are sufficiently insulated right from the onset.
When speaking of hollow walls, it is pretty effortless to install grow lights in your grow area when you are dealing with hollow as opposed to thick concrete walls. Achieving your needed temperature for optimal indoor plant growth is also easier when the walls are already adequately insulated.
Shortly, we might even start seeing 3D-printed grow rooms as the technology evolves, and as more people embrace its benefits.
While 3D printing has brought incredible improvements to modern construction, there is still a long way to go if the industry is to become entirely sustainable. We have not yet achieved sustainable living until when we will be able to print large numbers of houses using 3D printers.
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