Jun 23, 2017 | By Tess

A new research report by Arup Associates for the British Council of Offices has suggested that technologies such as 3D printing and virtual reality could help to make the office construction industry—and construction industry at large—more efficient. According to the report, 3D printing and VR could help to cut back on both waste and costs.

More specifically, Arup Associates, a management consulting company, has indicated that both technologies could enable the British Council of Offices to meet the government’s 2025 construction strategy targets.

As the report says, “If the UK construction industry is to come close to the ambitious targets in the government’s 2025 construction strategy, there needs to be a re-think about how we design, procure and construct buildings in the future.”

The 2025 strategy itself was established through a collaboration between industry and government with the goal of cutting construction emissions by 50% and speeding up construction times by 50% by the year 2025.

Apparently, 3D printing and virtual reality could be key in realizing these goals, as both technologies could offer big benefits to the design and construction process. “Design change is a real problem in the industry and contributes to major delays, significant re-work and wastage of material resource,” explains the report.

3D printing, it says, would be beneficial because it has the potential for zero material wastage, and could be used to realize faster build times, and customized parts. The report also sees 3D printing as a means to cut back on transportation times and cost.

As the technology currently stands, however, there are some significant challenges for fully implementing 3D printing for construction applications. First off, and as the report points out, 3D printing is not quite advanced enough for large scale construction applications, and it will need to mature significantly.

Secondly, there are limited quality assurances for 3D printing technologies and 3D printed structures. And thirdly, the technology can be prohibitive because of the large initial investment required for commercial use.

Still, the potentials for 3D printing in the construction field are there. As the report states, additive manufacturing could be useful for manufacturing custom furniture and fittings, bespoke structural connections, and specialized façade panels. It could also be used to create molds to cast bespoke concrete or metal parts.

“3D printing has the potential to revolutionize the way we design and construct our buildings in the future,” it says.

Virtual reality, for its part, could have an important role to play on the design end of things, as it could enable faster design comparisons, early identification of design flaws, and overall better understanding of construction logistics and sequencing. Importantly, VR could also be used to improve training processes, which could in turn reduce on-site mistakes and accidents.

By showing stakeholders and project leaders virtual models of planned projects, construction teams could get feedback earlier on, thus reducing the time, labour, and material costs that accumulate as construction projects drag on.

One possible downside of the technology would be that, if “poorly managed,” it could contribute to more isolation and less collaboration in the workplace.

Judging by the advancements we’re seeing in 3D printing construction, we have to say we’d agree that the technology has the potential to disrupt the construction industry on the whole. To see more about construction and 3D printing check out our list of top 3D printed housing and construction projects.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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