Why is 3D-printed architecture on the rise?
According to a July 2021 report by Grand View Research, the global 3D construction market is set to grow by an incredible 91% between 2021 and 2028. And, why is printed architecture seeing such rapid growth? Firstly, 3D printing is emerging as a possible solution to some of the challenges currently facing architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) – it can provide affordable housing, shelters for disaster-hit regions, and an answer to sustainable construction. Alongside these, one of the main advantages is the lower construction costs. It’s far easier to calculate the actual volume of construction material required, resulting in less waste.
Printed structures are also fabricated much quicker than traditional structures, saving both time and money. Rapid construction speed is a significant benefit and another reason why 3D-printed buildings are on the rise. Californian-based Mighty Buildings, for example, can now print a unit in just 24 hours. Printing at such speed could allow 3D printing to be used to create emergency shelters when needed and help meet the increasing demand for housing.
Providing an answer to sustainable architecture
Another advantage that 3D-printed architecture can provide, is a more sustainable way to build. Some specialists are exploring natural and local materials as an alternative to concrete, which comes with a heavy carbon footprint. This is an exciting development for AEC and of particular interest to architectural firms looking to reduce carbon emissions. Two companies testing alternatives to concrete for 3D printing are WASP and Mario Cucinella Architects. One of their projects, TECLA, has recently been printed in Italy with clay, paving the way for sustainable 3D printing in the future.
Being able to utilize local resources is also important for projects that are literally out of this world. ICON, a US-based developer of advanced construction technologies, is working with NASA to create the first simulated Mars habitat. If or when we support life on Mars, it will be essential to fabricate structures using local materials. 3D construction could be the answer to how we build these structures.
Utilizing real-time visualization in Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC)
There are some architectural firms that are already exploring 3D printing, a pioneering method of construction. And some are also making use of revolutionary real-time rendering and visualization technology to elevate their design workflow.
When combined, real-time rendering and 3D printing offer architects and stakeholders a fast and efficient way to review design options and quickly see them come to life. Californian-based Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects (EYRC) are one firm engaging with both technologies. They are collaborating with Mighty Buildings to design and print a single-family home and ADU (accessory dwelling unit) and are also using real-time visualization.
Real-time visualization aids design and communication
To help EYRC make quick decisions and present the best design options for the Mighty Buildings 3D-printed project, they are using Enscape’s real-time rendering and visualization technology.
“Early in the process, we were able to use Enscape to share the design intent with the Mighty Buildings team," explains Jessica Chang, Associate/Digital Practice Lead at EYRC. "For example, when we developed different striated 3d-printed textures on the envelope, Enscape renderings were critical to compare the shadow effects of these options. We also used Enscape to coordinate MEP items, visualize material transitions, and locate areas that need special attention and detailing.”
Real-time rendering technology offers architects and designers the ability to review designs in a more realistic environment. It’s perfect for analyzing lighting options, seeing where shadows appear at certain times of the day, and comparing different types of materials either on-screen or via virtual reality. It also makes it easy to communicate ideas since renders, animations, panoramas, and standalone files can be exported and shared with incredible ease.
Advancing design and architecture through technology
These two revolutionary technologies – 3D printing and real-time rendering, provide us with the opportunity to continue advancing both design and architecture. The tools are there to assist professionals to push boundaries and find solutions to today’s challenges whilst also preparing for tomorrow. And now is the perfect time to start harnessing them and enjoying the benefits they bring.
To learn more about real-time rendering, visit the Enscape website.