Yes it is true, second industrial revolution has started. This technology has started the revolution and the possibilities are endless. You want to know what it is?
Charles Chuck Hull created the first 3D printer back in 1984, the technology and its applications have a long way since then.
Some of the areas where it is being used will surprise you :
- 3D Printed Organs – This means that patients do not have to wait for donors, organs can be recreated from patient’s own cells.
- 3D Printed Automotive parts – General Motors used 3D printer to build prototypes of parts used in the vehicles. Ford has also utilized this technology to build prototypes of parts like cylinder heads, brake rotors, vents.
- 3D Printer use in Aerospace – Recently NASA fired up a rocket in which the injector was built using 3D printers. Now NASA has plans to use 3D printers to build spare parts on International Space Station.
- 3D Guns – Defense Distributed is a gunsmith group which created 3D printed gun called Liberator, 15 out of 16 gun parts were printed.
- 3D Prosthetics – Companies like Novacopy are building out body parts like limbs, feet, jaws and there have been positive results that this could be scaled to help amputees.
3D Printed Homes
This is another new area where this technology has started making inroads into. In China recently Win Sun Decoration Design Engineering has built 10 houses each measuring 200 square meters in under 24 hours.
The houses are Eco friendly made from recycled construction waste, glass and cement. Each home cost is less than $5000.
Researchers at University of Southern California were able to create a house with an area of 2500 sq. feet in approximately 20 hours using a process called “Contour Crafting”.
Process involves a giant robot which has a hanging nozzle and a flexible arm, this setup is known as Contour Crafter. Contour crafter starts laying down concrete based on a pattern and architecture present in a computer.
Constructing in layer by layer fashion, large scale parts can be fabricated very quickly.
Main advantages of contour crafting are
- Enhanced speed of fabrication.
- Superior surface finishing.
- Also the technology can be utilized to build various ceramics, construction materials etc.
The applications are as following :
Commercial Applications – Conventional construction is plagued by problems such as labor problems, material wastage, lack of customization. Cost of labor is increasing, complex designs take a lot of time and effort. All these problems can be solved using 3D Printing.
Low Income Housing Projects – Large chunk of population in the world is below poverty line and 3D printing can build affordable and basic houses in quick time.
Emergency Housing Projects – Disaster management requires fast turnaround times to relocate the victims and their families. Decent and Basic Housing (rather than tents) availability is the need of the hour.
Space Construction Projects – 3D printing can be utilized by NASA to build Lunar and Martian structures, labs etc.
As you can see the technology holds a lot of potential, the dream will take time though. In 2013 sales of desktop 3D printers was 72,503 units which is quite low and shows the technology is still at nascent stage.
But the scenario is not far when an architect could produce scaled layouts of floor plans, mock-up home layouts, and finally build complete homes with electricity wiring, various fittings, insulation, plumbing, air ventilation systems etc. and deliver completed projects in short time and at reduced cost.