3D printing : disrupting the construction industry

A couple of awesome companies are on track to disrupt the construction industry as we know it.

A few weeks back, I read a mind blowing piece from FastCoDesign which covered the efforts of MX3D and Autodesk to develop a 3D printing robot. This is not a run of the mill 3D printer to print silly gifts for your relatives, mind you! This, dear reader, will revolutionize the way structures are “made”.

This particular model from MX3D is a 6-axis metal squirting 3D printer. It can print gravity defying 3D Steel structures mid air. These companies aim to use this robot to 3D print a bridge, all on its own, without any human intervention! How awesome is that?! Come 2017, the robot will be placed on one bank of a canal in the Netherlands and will be switched “ON”. Thats the most human interaction this robot will receive. After two months, the robot will have 3D printed a new bridge and will be on the other bank of the canal. Head over to FastCoDesign to read the article.

As designers, we have multiple reasons to be excited with this experiment. For starters, it’ll improve the efficiency of 3D printers and make them more “aware” of their mistakes. Better feedback collection and processing will help them correct these mistakes. This means lesser failed print jobs and lesser frustration. Woohooo! I won’t have to swear at that @#*^$@ MakerBot anymore!
The other reason is that this squashes traditional planning and designing methods for large structures like bridges and buildings. Since the machine is tied to a structural analysis software, which will also be smart, we can feed it whatever crazy design our minds conjure. The machine will then analyze the design, suggest corrections to make it structural and will figure out the best method to build it mostly on its own. Of course a human will need to monitor its activities, but this project’s success will open up more liberal design thinking.

Perhaps now, we can all unleash the Frank Gehry within us and use this robot to bring our weirdly awesome designs to life, hahaha!!

The future holds many insane surprises, fellow designers! It will soon become the case where our imagination will be the only limitation in the equation! Cheers!

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