Although technological advances have significantly reshaped the construction industry over the last few decades, from computer-aided programming that allows near-instant tweaks to a blueprint to ultra-versatile polymer-based building materials, the advent of 3D printing may be a game-changer for builders, contractors, and equipment suppliers.
Not only can 3D printers quickly spit out scale models of construction projects, allowing contractors to quickly troubleshoot any potential issues, they can also use wood fiber, concrete, liquid aluminum, and other building materials to literally print boards, blocks, and screws. Several years ago, an overseas construction company made international news when it 3D-printed 10 homes in less than 24 hours, and this technology has only continued to improve. With the rising cost of construction materials, the use of 3D printers to make custom boards, bricks, and other construction components can significantly cut shipping costs and reduce material waste.
Recently, a Latin American company announced its plans to construct the world's first 3D printed village, designed to house impoverished locals earning less than $200 per month. Each home costs less than $10,000 to build, produces almost no waste, and can be constructed in areas without access to electricity, water, or even roads—all three of which have long been barriers to low-cost construction in rural and remote areas.
Although it will likely be a few more years before construction-ready 3D printers hit the market, builders can benefit from learning more about 3D printing technologies to determine the best way to integrate these innovations into their own businesses.