Just imagine the ceiling of a chapel built in a Gothic style in 1515. One would think of a living heap of stones. This type of structure is even more solid than we can imagine but would be difficult to reproduce because it is too complex for traditional construction techniques. It would require a highly skilled workforce, which is not easy to find and very expensive.
3D printing is a possible solution in the construction of such type of structures but the technology includes a lot of challenges. Several conversations with various experts of this field reveal that these challenges may consist in but are not limited to the possibility of printing buildings in an uncontrolled natural environment, the ability of the 3D printer to be autonomous, the type of structures one should print (are there horizontal surfaces? Vertical?), the development of standards for the design and analysis of printed structures and buildings, the materials, and most importantly, the costs.
Despite the numerous challenges that professionals are doing their best to address – as we will see in the articles below -, one undeniable fact remains that 3D printing helps build more sustainable structures.