We’ve learned of a new conference focused on 3D construction printing, but I’m wondering whether it’s too early for such an event.
3D printed construction has been a notion contemplated by many for quite a few years now. In fact, Fabbaloo’s first article on this topic appeared in 2008, now nine years later!
The idea is straightforward: instead of tediously constructing a structure using small components transported to a site in the traditional manner, set up a very large 3D printer-like device that could “extrude” the entire structure.
There have been many experiments in this area and we’ve written quite a few stories about them. However, none seem to have hit large scale success (no pun intended. Ok, pun WAS intended.)
I suspect there are multiple reasons for this that are actually quite analogous to the issues of adoption of the technology in manufacturing. Some thoughts:
- Buildings are traditionally made from specific materials with desired engineering characteristics, and those materials are not available on 3D construction printers yet.
- Buildings and structures are made from multiple types of materials, such as plastic, stone, metal, etc. to implement necessary functions, like ducting, insulation, electrical transmission, light passage and much more. Current 3D construction printers typically use only one material at a time.
- Knowledge of 3D construction printing is extremely limited and basically unknown in the construction industry at local levels where the action takes place.
- Few have any idea how to properly leverage 3D construction printing technology to produce “new” styles of design unachievable with traditional techniques, so there is little advantage to using the technology.
And there’s probably more barriers, but you get the idea.
Now there is a conference on this topic coming up organized by 3D Printhuset, a Danish company specializing in 3D printing sales.
The event takes place in Copenhagen on February 28th and runs for one day. The organizers have managed to attract several parties who have been experimenting in the construction field to explain their progress, including Enrico Dini, who has been working on the problem for some years.
There really isn’t that much activity in the world of 3D construction printing yet due to the above issues. But while some may be independently working on the problem, it is always better to share information and the best place to do that is at a conference. There’s the presentations, for sure, but the real action takes place during the breaks when connections are made and actions are committed.
So back to the question, “is it too early for a conference on 3D construction printing?”
My answer is no, this is exactly the right time to do so: get people together to talk about the challenges and perhaps begin to overcome them.