Ten years ago and the prospect of 3D printing just about any object, using lean resources and from the comfort of your home would have been classified as tending towards the obscene than it was scientific.
Today, 3D printers are pretty much mainstream. As was postulated in your favourite sci-fi movie, we are using them to print everything from prototypes to toys, machine parts, and even body organs.But how about a step further, away from the realms of science fiction and straight into something much more ambitious and futuristic – 3D printing your home from start to finish.
Yes, it’s possible!
And by possible, we mean – already demonstrated in the real world – possible. Backed by recent advancements in technology, several industry leaders have developed model 3D printing systems capable of achieving previously unimaginable feats. ICON for instance, through its Vulcan 3D printer, can raise a 60m2 building using cement in less than 24 hours.
Building a similar house using conventional methods takes at least six months and no less than twice the budget. In a world plagued by high building costs and poverty, (over 1.2 billion people have no shelter over their heads), 3D printed homes are more than a trend. They are a cost-effective and highly efficient means to scaling real-world problems.
A broad range of possibilities
While 3D printing a house does mark a major milestone in the 3D printing scene, it still is a minute demonstration of the technology’s capabilities. As an integral component of industry 4.0, 3D printing in the company of other novel technologies is ushering the world into the 4th industrial revolution. In that setting, it promises to provide a sustainable mechanism that translates set specifications into workable products, doing so with a relatively high level of exactitude.
Currently, over 11% of all manufacturing firms have ported to end-use products derived from 3D printing, that’s according to one study outlined by Forbes. Precision 3D printed composite parts are already a mainstay for high yield manufacturing companies and with every passing day more end consumer 3D printed products see daylight. In the medical industry, for instance, 3D printed surgical models, dental implants, and hearing aids are commonplace.
Given the pace of advancements in the industry, it won’t be long before 3D printed organs become a conventional practice in medicine. The approval of US’s first 3D printed drug by the FDA in 2015 lays further credence to this assertion.
The best is still to come
The prospects of 3D printing in the coming future are, however, it’s most exciting proposition. As more industry heavyweights, the likes of Siemens, HP, General Electric and Deloitte wade deeper, expect the scale of its adoption and inherent capabilities to improve. Just as it were in the medical industry, the technology holds the key to potentially disruptive innovations in virtually every faction of modern day living.
From aerospace engineering, where there’s a need for lighter, sturdier materials, to the manufacturing industry where it promises to ramp up productivity, down to the nutritional scene where the concept of 3D printed food is gaining traction. If all progresses well, and in the not too distant future, you just might be among the privileged few who get to live on Mars – in a 3D printed home.
That’s assuming Space X manages to get us there first.