Design

3D printing buildings, a summary of additive manufacturing in construction

Since the early days of 3D printing, marks have been set for the architectural industry to implement additive manufacturing technology into the construction of full-scale buildings. Research into Contour Crafting was conducted as far back as 2008. Caterpillar Inc. provided funding to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering in California, supporting a project using the method to make industrial molds. Under the direction of Bherokh Khoshnevis, Contour Crafting in 2016 is now a keyword when it comes to 3D printed buildings, as its concept has matured into the rapid layering of a concrete-like material to make walls.

A digital render of Contour Crafting. Image via: contourcrafting.org
A digital render of Contour Crafting. Image via: contourcrafting.org

Architects have also managed to successfully use plastics to print their structures, and one company have been exploring a bamboo filament for construction purposes. In this article, 3DPI has rounded up five of the best 3D printed architectural structures/concepts from across the globe today. If there are any you’d like to see added to the list, or you want to share your opinion, be sure to email or tweet us @3dprintindustry.

The 3D Print Canal House by DUS Architects, Amsterdam. 

DUS’ Canal House was first started as a project in 2014 and is due to be completed, as a full-size functional canal house sometime next year. It is open for the public to view, and will be the collaborative effort of various partners, including Ultimaker and manufacturing giants Henkel.

 

3D Print Canal House Image via: DUS Architects
A digital render of the 3D Print Canal House Image via: DUS Architects/3D Print Canal House

The (controversial) five-storey apartment block by WinSun, Suzhou.

Though the company have so far kept its construction methods a secret, the apartment block pictured below was a feat that, in 2015, put WinSun at the top of the rankings for 3D printing buildings. Not only was the building the tallest of its kind, it was also produced out of construction and industrial waste material. The project has provoked controversy in the 3D printing industry due to the fact that the founder of WinSun Dr. Ma is alleged to have copied the 3D printing method from Dr. Khoshnevis, without the permission of the later.

The Winsun apartment block. Photo via: Winsun Global
The Winsun apartment block. Photo via: Winsun Global

Curve Appeal by WATG Urban Architecture Studio, Chattanooga.

Not yet in construction (scheduled to start in 2017) the WATG (Wimberly, Allison, Tong & Goo) Curve Appeal house has been causing a stir in the industry since it won Branch Technology’s Freeform Design Competition in June 2016. When constructed, it will be the world’s first freeform 3D printed house.

Curve Appeal, a carbon fiber and plastic house
Curve Appeal, a carbon fiber and plastic house Image via: WATG Urban Architecture Studio

Flotsam & Jetsam by SHoP Architects, Miami.

Though this bamboo pavilion from SHoP may be subtler in its approach to 3D printing for construction than the other structures featured in this list, the techniques being explored by the collaborative effort Branch Technology and SHoP is anything but. It is made from a biodegradable bamboo filament provided by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which remains strong yet lightweight when printed.

SHoP Architects' pavilion: Flotsam Jetsam Image via: SHoP Architects
SHoP Architects’ pavilion: Flotsam Jetsam Image via: SHoP Architects

Dubai Future Foundation Office by WinSun Global and architectural partners, Dubai. 

Following the news that Autodesk has opened its Spark Fund to UAE entrepreneurs via Dubai Future Foundation, it would be something of an injustice not to feature DFF’s 3D printed office in this round up. The office is the first of many buildings planned for the 3D printed future of Dubai within which 25% of the city’s buildings are going to be 3D printed over the next fourteen years.

dubai_3dp office
Dubai Future Foundation Office by WinSun Global Photo via: Dubai Future Foundation

Featured image is a model structure of the 3D Print Canal House, Amsterdam. Image via: DUS Architects on Facebook.

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