Three very important elements in architecture are:
Visualization: The visualization of the final outcome/presentation of the schematic design
Automation: The way the structure is constructed
Materials: The materials that make up the structure
3D Printing has helped to make advances in each of these categories.
It is important to have a visual of the outcome of a project before construction is started. Over time this has been shown through 2D drawings or handbuilt models, but since 3D printers have become more widely available, some architects are choosing to print models as a visualization tool.
Archello says, “3D printing lets architects and designers enhance design innovation, quickly produce 3D printed concept and massing models with complex surfaces and geometries for presentation purposes."
With large-format 3D printing, buildings can be built by machine rather than by hand. Impressive advances in the scale of 3D printing have been made in the last few years. This Dubai, United Arab Emirates Municipal Building was printed with a concrete mixture in 2020. The building was executed by U.S. based company Apis Cor and as of 2020 was the world’s largest 3D printed building. Acrh Daily, online magazine, reports “The mobile machinery
moved around the site by crane, to be able to cover the whole printed area, bigger than its normal reach. In fact, only 3 workers and the machine were needed to 3D print wall structures of the entire building.”
Building materials are expanding and growing. Altogether new materials have been created for building purposes and others have been modified. The company Apis developed its own concrete mixture and made modifications to it as the project went on for this 3D printed building. This was a learning opportunity for them to develop their methods since this is a new method of building. This company is helping to pave the way for the future of 3D printed buildings.
In Ravenna, Italy homes are being constructed from a mixture of locally sourced mud. Arquitecturaviva.com says “The collaboration between Mario Cucinella Arquitectos and WASP has been supported by Mapei, a manufacturer of construction materials that have investigated the key components of soil to come up with an optimal final product.