BIM unleashes 3D Printing’s potential for innovation

 

The first 3D Printing prototype was developed in the early eighties, but the technology has only become popular in 2009, as the first patent fell into the public domain. Ever since then, more and more people are studying this process and helping to push the boundaries of Additive Manufacturing forward.

Nowadays, various materials can be used as primary matter (Polymers, Steel, Concrete, Graphene, Carbon, Bones, Bio-based Organic Compounds, etc.) and diverse industries now benefit from 3D printing : Medical, Aerospatial, Construction, and even the Food Sector has developed specific applications (see how the company Barilla entered the 3D Printing market).

For the Construction Industry, it opens a whole new realm of possibilities: on-site printed elements allows greater potential for customization and creation of complex structures. Moreover, 3D Printing also means less waste, important time and costs saving on fabrication and transportation of building elements, bigger flexibility for last-minute changes, and much more. From nanomolecular structures to whole houses, 3D Printers can achieve a wide range of elements in different size. Earlier this year, Chinese company WinSun has announced the completion of 10 houses, printed within 24 hours.

Maybe you are still wondering what does this have to do with BIM? Everything! In order for this technology to be usable in the construction industry, BIM Models are the cornerstones of the 3D Printing applications for the AEC Industry. All information about the geometry and characteristics of the elements to be printed must first be specified in a digital 3D Model, which is later transmitted to the printer via a specific programming language. In other words, BIM is the brain and the printers are the brawn.

If it is true that the actual price of 3D Printing does not permit mass production to be profitable yet, Printing machines are constantly being improved and are always reaching higher levels of efficiency. New materials are being tested every day and Additive Manufacturing Technology presents customized solution to the specific challenges of many different industries. The increasingly widespread use of it will make it more and more affordable. Who knows, perhaps you will have to replace your good old Laser Printer for a 3D Printer soon…

Interested in learning more about this topic? Have a look at what the NASA is currently printing in the International Space Station…

 

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