In January 2013, Universe Architecture, a Dutch architectural firm, created a media hype in Europe when it announced it would build a building using 3D printing. The announcement raised awareness about the possibilities of 3D printing in architecture and construction. 5 years later, there are several possibilities and companies have deployed.
While the use of 3D printing in architecture includes several stages of a project development, its primary objective is to facilitate the understanding of a project. Indeed, even though they do not always realize it, architects’ drawings cannot be read as easily as a book and require a certain experience to visualize a 3D idea from a 2D diagram.
The basic 3D printing process of an architectural part is therefore, made up of 3 main stages:
Identification of the type of fabrication that will be carried out. Is it a prototype? A model or a representation of an existing structure?
Determine the required elements for the manufacturing of the part: type of machine, scale, materials and finishes.
Once these data are set up, the architect should keep in mind that the 3D model will be subject to some constraints imposed by 3D printing, therefore adjustments will be applied depending on aforementioned settings.
The use of 3D printing in architecture consists in creating a prototype from which the final construction of a project will be carried out. While desktop 3D printers are often widely used by architects, it should be noted that the use of industrial 3D printers combined with other performant industrial equipment may lead to the development of new innovative products and even new business models.